Lakers vs. Mavericks Odds
|Time||3:30 p.m. ET|
|Odds via PointsBet. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.|
The Los Angeles Lakers start a three-game road trip with a Sunday afternoon game in Dallas against the Mavericks. Any game featuring LeBron James and Luka Doncic is special, but this is also the first time James will face off with Kyrie Irving this season.
It comes at a critical point in the campaign for both teams but especially the Lakers who are looking to jump three teams in the Western Conference standings that have all lost multiple games in recent days. A win Sunday would put the Lakers in a tie with the Portland Trail Blazers and Oklahoma City Thunder for 11th in the West.
Here’s preview of the odds and matchup as well as a pick for Lakers vs. Mavericks.
Los Angeles Lakers
James told reporters after the All-Star Game that this stretch to end the season will be the most important regular season games of his career. That puts a game like this under the microscope because the Lakers need to beat talented teams like the Mavs to have any chance of making the playoffs. Competing and losing heartbreakers in the final minutes like L.A. did in its overtime loss in January won’t cut it anymore.
The Lakers’ roster is completely different compared to the last two times these teams played. This version of the Lakers appears more balanced on both sides of the ball on paper.
Prior to the trade, the Lakers ranked 18th in Offensive Rating (114.0) and 21st in Defensive Rating (115.6), per Cleaning the Glass. Since the trade (small sample here), the Lakers have the third-best Defensive Rating and have allowed just 108.8 points per 100 possessions excluding their non-garbage time minutes. Anthony Davis is a huge part of that success, the Lakers allow 5.8 fewer points per 100 with Davis on the floor compared to when he’s off.
The offense isn’t as potent and the numbers reflect that — their Offensive Rating actually dropped to 111.2 in the five games after the trade deadline — but James missed three of those and their new additions were also absent for one of them. But the team they have now with multiple shooters around their stars certainly fits much better than the previous version.
Unfortunately, the Lakers likely won’t have D’Angelo Russell (doubtful) who suffered an ankle sprain Thursday night. That means Dennis Schroder and James, two players who love to get into the paint, will be the primary ball-handlers for the Lakers for most of the game.
It should also have some impact on their spacing and shooting from beyond the arc, but their role players (Malik Beasley, Troy Brown, Austin Reaves) can hit shots off passes from James and Schroder when they get into the paint and kick out to the wings.
Ultimately, I think Davis will be player to watch in this matchup. He was injured for both matchups earlier this season, but he can dominate the Mavericks’ front line with his size. If James and Schroder can get downhill with Davis rolling to the basket, the Mavericks won’t have much of an answer defensively.
When the Mavericks traded for Irving, they essentially punted on defense for the rest of the season. They still have solid guys on the wings — Josh Green has been a revelation for them this season — but their interior defense is existent.
Prior to the trade, the Mavericks were 14th in the NBA in points allowed in the paint at 49.4 per game. Since the trade, they are last in the NBA, allowing 59.7 points in the paint. It’s not just their interior defense, they are allowing 2.7 more points on defense per 100 possessions in their non-garbage time minutes since moving their best defensive player, Dorian Finney-Smith.
The good news for the Mavericks is Irving is an offense unto himself. Paired with Doncic, the Mavericks have arguably the most dangerous duo in the NBA and the Mavs are second in the league with a 123.5 Offensive Rating since the move. Sounds like a fair trade to me.
There are still some things that need to be ironed out with two high-usage players sharing the floor, but even with just one of those two stars on the floor, the offense can be overwhelming.
In their most recent game against the Spurs (yes, I’m referencing the awful Spurs but roll with me), the Mavericks had a nine-point lead at the start of the fourth and were up by 30 with five minutes left in the quarter with Doncic on the bench. Irving accounted for more points in that stretch (13) than the Spurs scored as a team (12).
Against better teams that are actually trying to compete for the postseason, it won’t be that easy, but having a player who can go on a run like that without your MVP candidate on the floor is huge.
After all that talk about the how good the Mavericks have been on offense and how stingy the Lakers have been on defense, I want no parts of this total. The Lakers like to play uptempo — No. 2 in Pace this season — and the Mavericks are pushing the ball a lot more with Irving on the team. That said, both James and Doncic like to slow things down and work the clock, so we could see a mix of both styles at various points in this game.
The Lakers haven’t done well in early games this season. In matchups that begin before 7 p.m. ET, the Lakers are 2-4 against the spread and that includes their Christmas Day loss to the Mavericks. You may remember, however, that the Lakers were leading that game at the half. I think that’s where we’ll find the most value in this game.
This season, the Lakers are 34-26 against the first half spread, including 25-18 as dogs in the first half, according to data from Bet Labs. The Mavericks are 24-35-2 ATS in the first half and 16-23-2 as favorites.
In those same games that started before 7 p.m. ET, the Lakers were 5-1 ATS in the first half. With L.A. coming off a few days rest, I think we’ll see James and Co. come out with some urgency early. I’m betting them to cover the first half spread at +1.5 and I’ll also take a stab at the Lakers’ first half moneyline at plus money.
Pick: Lakers +1.5 1H (+100)