Clippers vs. Mavericks Preview: Doncic and Dallas Have a Home Edge

Jim Turvey breaks down his best bets for Tuesday's NBA matchup between the Los Angeles Clippers and the Dallas Mavericks.

Clippers vs. Mavericks Odds

Clippers Odds +7
Mavericks Odds -7
Over/Under 212
Time 8:30 p.m. ET
TV NBA League Pass
Odds via PointsBet. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

With every team in the league having now played at least a dozen games, we’re starting to get some semi-legitimate samples to work off of when it comes to analyzing what teams are doing in 2022-23.

This is kind of that Twilight Zone area, though, where some stats hold water, while others are still incredibly noisy, so we need to do our due diligence to make sure we’re separating out the true signal when it comes to how we are going to bet.

On Tuesday night, we get the latest in what is quietly a fun little rivalry when the 8-6 Los Angeles Clippers travel to Dallas to take on the 7-5 Mavericks. The Clippers knocked Luka Doncic and the Mavs out of the postseason in both 2019-20 and 2020-21, so whenever these two teams meet, there’s a little extra juice.

Plus, as Albert Nguyen pointed out on this morning’s episode of BUCKETS,  Luka just loves going after Terance Mann, especially if he can get him in the post.

With the opening line set at Dallas -7, let’s see if we can find some value on the betting board.

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 Can the Clippers Give PG Some Help?

The Clippers sit comfortably in the sixth spot in the West as of Tuesday morning, but there’s reason to believe they aren’t quite worthy of that top-six seeding. The team’s Net Rating (-1.9) suggests a team with more like a 6-8 record, and even that number has come against a very soft schedule so far (sixth-easiest schedule to date, per NBA-reference).

Kawhi Leonard getting on the court seems like a lost cause, and while Paul George has been excellent this season (24.5/6.1/4.5 with a 53.1 eFG%), the rest of the roster has looked a bit lost at times.

Reggie Jackson has slipped back into his brutal offensive output days, shooting 41.3 percent from the field and 30.5 percent from deep. That will weigh even heavier on Tuesday, as John Wall will be sitting out with this being a back-to-back for the Clippers (and also a third game in four nights).

It’s hardly just Jackson, though. Norman Powell, Luke Kennard, Nicolas Batum, Terance Mann, Ivica Zubac, Amir Coffey and Robert Covington have all played at least 100 minutes this season and have had an overall negative impact on the Clippers, per Box Plus Minus. It’s been especially rough on the offensive end, with the Clippers ahead of only their cross-town rival Lakers this season when it comes to Offensive Rating.

Given the Mavericks’ top-10 defense and slowest pace in the league, it’s very hard to imagine the Clippers scoring much on Tuesday.

Doncic and the Mavericks Back on Track

But will the Mavs score enough to cover the seven-point spread?

Despite a very similar 7-5 record, the Mavs are at the other end of the spectrum from the Clippers. Their Net Fating suggests they’ve been a little unlucky, especially when accounting for having played the second-hardest schedule so far. NBA Reference’s simple rating system actually has them as the fourth-best team in basketball this season, and they are one of just three teams with both a top-10 offensive and defensive Net Rating in 2022-23.

The Mavs are doing it with Luka Doncic, a bit of Luka Doncic and some more Luka Doncic. The fifth-year pro is averaging 34.4/8.7/8.1 with a 54.6 eFG% and a  39.1 (!) percent Usage Rate that would rank third all-time if he kept it up all season.

A few games back, it started to look like Doncic might already be getting worn down a bit, as the Mavericks suffered a pair of road losses. Doncic went a combined 17 of 50 from the floor in those losses and had “just” a total of 46 points and 12 assists against the Orlando Magic and Washington Wizards.

However, whether it was getting back home or the return or Christian Wood, Doncic looked all the way back in the Mavs’ most recent game, nearly matching those two Eastern Conference totals in one outing as he dropped 42 and 10 in a win against Portland on Saturday.

The Mavericks are now nearly back to full health, missing only Davis Bertans, and that’s great news for them as they are 6-1 in the seven games in which their ideal top nine have been healthy.

Clippers-Mavericks Pick

Based on all the above, it’s probably not too surprising to know I am leaning towards the Mavericks. However, because of the pace at which the Mavs play and their inability to pull away from teams in the second half, I am on Dallas in the first half (bet them at -3.5 at WynnBet – a full point better than the consensus price of -4.5).

The Mavericks have been the best first-half team in the NBA so far this season, sporting a +11.4 Net Rating in the first 24 minutes of games in 2022-23. The Clippers, on the other hand, have a -2.5 Net Rating in first halves this year.

For player props, I am going to look at where Luka’s points prop opens because I do like what Nguyen was saying on BUCKETS about really liking to take it to Mann in the post. I’m also going to be looking at a more niche market: Ivica Zubac blocks. Zubac started the season at an absurd block rate, averaging 2.8 blocks per game in his first nine games, but in his last five games, he’s much closer to his career average of 1.0 per game.

If the books are still going to float a 1.5 line and juice the over (which they did last game), I’ll jump on the under and play it down to -120.

Pick: Dallas -3.5 First-Half Spread at WynnBet | Ivica Zubac Under 1.5 Blocks (play to -120)