Mavericks vs. Bucks Preview: Target This Live Betting Angle

Andrew O'Connor-Watts previews Sunday's NBA game between the Mavericks and Bucks, including betting odds and a prediction.

Mavericks vs. Bucks Odds

Mavericks Odds +6
Bucks Odds -6
Over/Under 215
Time 8 p.m. ET
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

The Dallas Mavericks will play the Milwaukee Bucks in a battle of two MVP candidates in Luka Doncic and Giannis Antetokounmpo.

The Mavericks find themselves on a back-to-back following a 105-100 loss to a depleted Toronto Raptors squad on Saturday.

The Bucks, meanwhile, are coming off a rest day after defeating the Cavaliers 117-102 on Black Friday in a game where they outscored the Cavs 35-10 in the third quarter.

Tonight could be the season debut of Bucks forward Khris Middleton, who has missed all of this season with a wrist injury that’s kept him out since April 8 of last year.

Will Middleton suit up? And if so, what does that mean for the side in this matchup?

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Mavericks On Back-To-Back

Doncic had a relatively quiet stat line Saturday night, ending the game with 24 points, seven rebounds and nine assists on 8-of-15 from the field.

The Mavericks came out hot against the Raptors, leading 22-7 to start the game. But their success was short-lived.

Raptors coach Nick Nurse threw double-teams at Doncic all game, letting the Mavericks’ supporting cast beat them and it worked well enough for Toronto to get the win.

Nurse out-maneuvered Mavericks coach Jason Kidd, who struggled to find lineups outside the starting five that were successful. Every Mavericks starter had a positive plus-minus, but not a single bench player had a positive contribution for Dallas.

Doncic looked thoroughly disjointed for most of the game, largely a result of what the Raptors were able to throw at him. Against an elite defense like the Bucks’, I doubt it will be much easier for him.

There’s an outside chance that Doncic rests after playing 43 minutes, but after the Thanksgiving break I doubt it will come to that.

Bucks Have Dominant Defense

The Bucks have been playing incredible defense this season — so good, in fact, that they have not one, but two Defensive Player of the Year candidates. Both are the top two betting favorites to win the award, and the odds-on favorite isn’t even Antetokounmpo, it’s veteran center Brook Lopez.

The eldest Lopez brother is the rim protecting anchor of the best defense in the league by a wide margin.

The Bucks have the best Defensive Rating in the league at 105.9, which is a massive 2.4 points higher than the second-ranked defense of the Los Angeles Clippers.

To put that margin in context, the difference between the Bucks rating and the Clippers is a wider margin than the Clippers and the 12th-ranked Raptors.

Their defense is elite because they do what all good defenses must do in the advanced analytics era: protect the paint and limit 3-pointers.

Thanks to Lopez and Antetokounmpo, the Bucks allow the second-fewest shots at the rim and are ninth at defending them, according to Cleaning the Glass.

The Mavericks shoot the third-most threes, but the Bucks are sixth in opponent threes allowed.

However, the offense for the Bucks has been less than stellar on the season, despite an improvement in the last five games. Their full season Offensive Rating of 110.2 is only 21st in the league, but in the last five games they’re 12th in that metric.

The addition of Middleton should only improve their offensive issues without negatively effecting their defensive prowess.

Mavericks-Bucks Pick

From a game theory standpoint I lean to the under, but trends and my projected number points to an over.

If the game is trending over, there could be a buy-low spot on the under going into the fourth quarter, as both teams tend to slow down the pace in the final 12 minutes.

If Middleton doesn’t suit up, I lean towards the Bucks to cover a relatively short spread with the Mavericks on a back-to-back.

If Middleton does suit up, however, I would hold off on betting the side. In fact I might even lean towards the Mavericks. The line will likely move a few points away from the Bucks, but there are often growing pains in star players’ first games back.

The offensive and defensive flow can be disrupted and the value side can shift to the opposing team.

Pick: Live Bet the Under after 3 Quarters if the Total gets to 220 or higher