Grizzlies vs. Mavericks Preview: Target the Total in this Southwest Division Showdown

Mavericks' totals have gone 33-13 (71.7%) to the under this season and have gone under in 7 games in a row. Austin Wang breaks down why he thinks the Mavericks will continue their streak of unders against the Grizzlies on Sunday night.

Grizzlies vs. Mavericks Odds

Grizzlies Odds +3.5
Mavericks Odds -3.5
Over/Under 216.5
Time 7:30 p.m. ET
TV NBA League Pass
Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

The Southwest Division is starting to get competitive. After the hot start from the Memphis Grizzlies and the Dallas Mavericks struggling out of the gate, it looked like the Grizzlies were on an easy path to win the division.

Don’t look now, but the Mavericks have won 10 of their last 12 games and are now six games above .500. They are still five games behind the Grizzlies, but there is plenty of basketball left to be played. They’ve had the league’s best defense for a while now and have been putting the clamps on their opponents.

The Grizzlies continue their magical season. They’ve recently been hit hard with health and safety protocols. However, that did not stop them from beating the Denver Nuggets Friday on the road as underdogs. Can they pull off another upset on Sunday night? Let’s break down the matchup below.

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Memphis Grizzlies

The Grizzlies have four key rotation players out due to health and safety protocols, including Kyle Anderson, Desmond Bane, Dillon Brooks and Tyus Jones. They have a deep rotation, but this is getting out of hand.

Bane has had a breakout sophomore campaign, averaging 17.7 points per game on 47% shooting from the field and 42% from behind the arc. He has really stepped it up lately and was a key contributor behind that 11-game winning streak.

In fact, his Value Over Replacement Player is the second-highest on the roster behind Ja Morant, per Basketball-Reference. What an absolute steal he was in the 2020 NBA Draft for the Grizzlies.

Jones being out is also a huge loss. He’s Memphis’ backup point guard and really keeps his foot on the gas when Morant takes a breather. He even kept the Grizzlies afloat when Morant was out for 12 games with a knee injury. If you recall, they went 10-2 during that span.

The injuries didn’t matter as last game as Morant continued his amazing leap this season. He’s scored 30 points in two consecutive games and led them to an impressive win against the Nuggets on the road.

Without some of their depth and best scorers, their offense has taken a dip. In the last five games, they are only 26th in the league in Offensive Rating and 27th in Effective Field Goal percentage. This will not bode well against a ferocious defensive team such as the Mavericks, per NBA Advanced Stats.

Dallas Mavericks

Mavericks’ totals have gone 33-13 (71.7%) to the under this season, per our Bet Labs tool. Their totals have gone under in seven games in a row and in 12 of their last 13 games. The only game that went over was a game against the Houston Rockets, who don’t understand the concept of defense.

Dallas’ games average 208.0 points per game, the lowest in the league. They only allow 102.8 points per game and have held their opponents to under 100 points 18 times this season. The Mavs have also limited their opponents to under 50% shooting in 21 consecutive games.

They’ve been successful on the defensive side of the ball, but their offense hasn’t been great. They are ranked below average in Offensive Rating and only register as 21st (109.2) in the league in that metric. They have plenty of talented scorers, and it is only a matter of time they will get it figured out and be very dangerous for the rest of the league.

Head coach Jason Kidd and the staff have done an excellent job turning this defense around because it had been horrid for the last several seasons.

Dorian Finney-Smith has been a huge contributor to this improved Mavericks defense. He leads the team in Defensive Box Plus-Minus, per Basketball Reference, and his versatility and length allow him to guard multiple positions. Another player that has contributed to an overall great team defense is Maxi Kleber, another mobile big man who can protect the rim.

Grizzlies-Mavericks Pick

I think you know what my pick will be.

We have been riding Mavericks’ unders for several games now and highlighted them as a team to target in my weekly totals report here.

The Grizzlies may be one of the fastest-paced teams in the league, but the Mavericks have shown that they control the tempo. I think their defense will overwhelm the shorthanded Grizzlies.

The Grizzlies are missing some of their best scorers and will play more of De’Anthony Melton, who is known for his defense and not his scoring. Morant will have a tougher time scoring against this stout Dallas defense.

In addition, each team will bring its best game in a divisional matchup that could have playoff and divisional title implications as these games tend to have more defensive intensity. These teams also already played each other on Jan. 14 so they are already familiar with one another. That game had a total of 197 points, so I expect this to be a low-scoring game once again.

Give me the under on the total of 217. This game should have a total of 213, and I would play this down to 215.

Pick: Under 217 (down to 215)