Bucks vs Mavericks: Can Dallas Keep Pace With Damian Lillard & Co.?

Action Network contributor Kenny Ducey gives his NBA betting picks and prediction for Milwaukee Bucks vs Dallas Mavericks on Saturday, February 3.

Here’s everything you need to know about Bucks vs. Mavericks on Saturday, Feb. 3 — our expert prediction and betting picks for today.

The Milwaukee Bucks enter play on Saturday as losers of three of their last four games, and are still looking to rehabilitate their defense. They’ll be in for another challenge against the Dallas Mavericks, but might some poor defending offer some reprieve here?

Let’s get to our Bucks vs. Mavericks prediction and pick.

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Bucks vs. Mavericks Prediction

Pick: Mavericks +4.5 (-110)

Bucks Betting Outlook

The Bucks brought Doc Rivers in roughly a week ago to help tighten up this team’s defense, and so far it’s been a mixed bag. This team allowed an acceptable 113 points per 100 possessions in their first game under Rivers, a tight loss to the Nuggets, before taking a step in the wrong direction in a road loss to the Trail Blazers.

Now, the task gets a bit taller against one of the strongest offenses in the NBA. The Bucks have struggled against jump-shooters this season, and since the start of the new year they’ve ranked 22nd against the three. We know Dallas to be one of the most lethal teams from outside, so this is certainly a spot of bother for the road team here.

Speaking of which, we should point out that the Bucks have gone just 8-14 against the spread in all games away from home, shooting around two points worse from long range and dropping off by four points per 100 possessions on the defensive end. This has traditionally ben an unkind spot to Bucks bettors.

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Mavericks Betting Outlook

The Mavericks may have a way into this game on paper when you look at how they’ve played all year, but there are a number of injuries threatening this team’s prospects on Saturday. Kyrie Irving is doubtful and Dante Exum will miss another game, putting this team’s outside shooting in a spot of bother. On top of that, the frontcourt will be depleted with Derek Lively doubtful, and there’ a chance Derrick Jones Jr. misses this game as well.

Theoretically, the Mavericks should be able to continue shooting well considering they’ve knocked down nearly 39% of shots from outside at home and will still have the services of Luka Doncic, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Josh Green even if Irving and Exum are out. Defensively, however, this has been a team which has struggled mightily in defending within four feet and over the last month it’s ranked second-worst in the league.

That will be a key storyline to monitor here, considering the Bucks are one of the strongest teams in the NBA around the rim. It’ll be up to this offense to keep pace with Milwaukee.

Bucks vs. Mavericks Picks, Odds

The Bucks are still not quite where they need to be on defense, and even with a palatable showing against Denver their issues were still apparent against Portland in a game where they simply couldn’t get any stops to come back and win a game in which they entered as double-digit favorites.

Even without Irving and Exum here, and some vital defenders down low, I still like the Dallas offense in this spot. We saw the other night in Portland that even when a team can’t slow the Bucks all that much on the offensive end, there are ample ways to win games with how poor this defense has been.

So, it may be scary to back a team that has no prayer of stopping Giannis Antetokounmpo inside, but it’s hard to deny how well this offense shoots — and scores in general — at home. This is a smash spot for the Mavericks in my eyes, and Rivers will have to wait a bit longer to get a win with his new team.

Pick: Mavericks +4.5 (-110)