Mavericks vs. Nets Preview: Can Luka & Dallas Stay Hot on the Road?

Action Network NBA contributor Kenny Ducey previews how to bet Wednesday night's matchup between the Dallas Mavericks and Brooklyn Nets.

Mavericks vs. Nets Odds

Mavericks Odds -2.5
Nets Odds +2.5
Over/Under 220.5
Time 7:30 p.m. ET
Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

After a sensational 60-point outing from Kyrie Irving, the Nets will attempt to string together a fifth win in a row when they play on the second night of a back-to-back in Brooklyn without their dynamic point guard.

Against a surging Dallas Mavericks squad, is it wise to fade the shorthanded Nets? Let’s dive into the numbers.

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Mavericks Defense Continues to Shine

The Mavericks are red-hot, entering Wednesday the winners of nine games in their last 11 and on a 9-2 run against the spread. The Mavs are fresh off an outright win as a seven-point underdog against Boston — the defining win of their streak and proof that their form is something to believe in.

Since the All-Star break — a period in which the Mavericks have gone 7-2 ATS — defense has told the story. They’ve ranked 11th with just 111.3 points allowed per 100 possessions.

Dallas’ strength has come against jump shots. Against mid-range shots, it has led the NBA with a 28% field goal percentage on defense in the second half, according to NBA Advanced Stats, and the defense ranks sixth against the 3s with just 34.1% of shots falling during that period of time.

While shooting variance can have its say in these numbers, the Mavericks have been exceptional at guarding the perimeter for the majority of the year given their strong wings.

A potential hang-up is the status of Reggie Bullock, however, who has been ruled out due to personal reasons. Dallas will also be without Tim Hardaway, Jr. yet again — though it has gone on this great defensive run without him (which is probably not a coincidence).

The Mavericks have been exceptional away from home this season, going 21-12 against the spread and 10-5 ATS as road favorites. By comparison, they’re 18-16-1 ATS at home and 12-11-1 as home favorites which is quite the disparity.

No Irving, Slight Problem for Brooklyn

In a moment that just about sums up the Nets’ season to this point, they are gearing up to play a tough opponent without Irving just hours after he became the talk of the sports world with a 60-point outing.

Irving, who is still ineligible to play in New York due to his vaccination status, single-handedly powered Brooklyn to a win over Orlando — a team that had ranked first in defensive efficiency prior allowing 60 to Irving and 150 to the team as a whole.

The Nets are simply a different team with Irving on the floor. In the minutes he has played this season, the Nets have posted a 119.3 Offensive Rating according to NBA Advanced Stats. When he’s off the court? That number sinks to 109.9.

That is a terrifying number, and despite the fact that Kevin Durant has been capable of leading Brooklyn to victory all by himself as he did against the Knicks over the weekend, this is going to be a very tricky opponent. To make matters worse, Brooklyn has been abysmal on defense in the second half, ranking 24th in defensive efficiency.

It’s also worth noting that the Nets love pulling up for jumpers. They rank second in field goal attempts per game from mid-range since the break and third for the entire season, which is likely a result of having Durant as your leading scorer.

Mavericks-Nets Pick

I have saved my favorite angle for last, which is one I leaned on this weekend against the Knicks. That is that the Nets are just 6-25-1 against the spread at home. That is the worst mark in the league — by far.

To put things in perspective, the two teams ahead of the Nets in second-to-last place are the Rockets and Magic, who have at least covered in 12 games. While Irving’s impact can be spelled out with his on/off splits, we can also get a good sense for how much this team misses the superstar by looking at that trend. The Mavericks are a rock-solid defensive team around the perimeter, and their prowess against the mid-range jump shot should really work wonders here against the Nets.

Given how terrible Brooklyn has been at home, and how amazing Dallas has been away from home, I’m inclined to lay the points. I’d go as high as four, considering the Nets will be tired on the second night of a back to back — a scenario where they are just 2-8-1 ATS this year.

Pick: Mavericks -2.5 (-110)