Bucks vs. Mavericks Odds
|Time||10 p.m. ET|
|Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.|
The Milwaukee Bucks head to Dallas to face off against the Mavericks on Friday in what will be the second meeting between the two teams this season.
The Bucks took the first game at home 124-115 without their primary wing threat, All-Star Khris Middleton.
However, the Mavericks have had more success in the head-to-head matchups lately, covering in five of the past six games between the teams.
Can the defense-first Bucks change the narrative momentum or will Luka Doncic and the offensive-minded Mavericks keep up their head-to-head success?
Khris Middleton has (understandably) struggled since returning from a wrist injury that kept him away from a basketball court since April of last year.
In a small sample size since his return, Middleton is averaging 15.8 points per 36 minutes on just 36.4% shooting, according to Basketball Reference. However, his playmaking is up from 6.0 to 7.9 assists per 36 minutes.
I have no doubt his shooting will improve as he eases back into his role in the Bucks’ offense. It generally takes players a few weeks to regain their scoring groove, especially such a lengthy absence. And if the playmaking trend continues, that could be a truly scary addition to his arsenal. With even more playmaking around Jrue Holiday and Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Bucks could vault their league-average offense into the top 10.
The Bucks are 14th in Adjusted Offense Rating, according to Dunks and Threes, which accounts for strength of schedule. They’ve slipped from first to third in Adjusted Defensive Rating, but that could have more to do with a few missed games from Brook Lopez, Holiday and Antetokounmpo — not to mention some growing pains reintegrating Middleton into the defensive scheme.
It’s tough to say when Middleton will return to form, but when he does, the Bucks will be a force in the East, rivaled (and likely surpassed) only by the Boston Celtics.
Luka Doncic and the Mavericks continue to be a bit of an anomaly. The oddsmakers haven’t been able to value them properly when they’re favored, as they’re 6-13-1 against the spread. However, as underdogs they are 2-2 ATS.
I think this can be attributed to a few things. First, the Mavericks are slightly underperforming their preseason expectations. Their 13-11 record puts them on pace for just over 44 wins, which is 4.5 wins shy of their regular season win total of 48.5.
Additionally, the Mavericks are extremely thin on playmaking. Outside of Spencer Dinwiddie, who is far from elite, the Mavericks don’t have anyone who can confidently run an offense, which a big reason they recently signed Kemba Walker, who hasn’t played in an NBA game since Feb. 16 of last year.
Of players who have logged at least 480 minutes this season (the number of minutes a 20-minutes-per-game player would have logged if they played in every game so far this season), the Mavericks have three players in the bottom 10 in Usage: Maxi Kleber (9.2%), Reggie Bullock (9.2%) and Dorian Finney-Smith (11.2%). In other words, when those guys aren’t knocking down threes, they’re not involved in the play.
That puts a lot of pressure on Doncic, who is shouldering a massive load. According to Cleaning the Glass, Doncic has a Usage rate of 42.3%, 3.3% ahead of the second-place player — Antetokounmpo (39%).
Middleton’s return to a positive, productive member of the Bucks is coming soon, but it hasn’t happened yet. Milwaukee is just 1-2 against the spread with Middleton on the floor.
Meanwhile, Doncic is in better shape than he’s ever been and seems to always put on a show for the national TV games.
My numbers show some value on the Mavericks side, but I’ll be looking to some totals in this matchup. I lean to the full game over and will likely take it if it falls to 221 or better. I’ll also take the first quarter over as both these teams tend to slow things down in the fourth quarters.
The Bucks and Mavericks are 15-9 and 15-8 to the first quarter over this season, and their home/road splits jibe as well. The Bucks are 6-3 to the over on the road and the Mavericks are 9-4 to the over at home.
In Bucks-Mavericks games where Doncic has played, the first quarter has gone over 54.5 in six of seven matchups. I like the over up to 55.
Pick: Over 54.5 1Q (-115)