Mavericks vs. Nuggets Odds
|Time||10 p.m. ET|
|Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.|
Friday evening, the Dallas Mavericks travel up to the high altitude of Denver on the second night of back-to-back to face the Nuggets. In an ideal scenario, Nikola Jokic and Luka Doncic will face off in a battle of international superstars.
However, the league’s reigning MVP Jokic is questionable after suffering a knee injury on Wednesday against the Jazz. He sat out of practice on Thursday, but lucky for the Nuggets, there’s no structural damage. Needless to say, if he sits out, this will have a huge impact on the market for this game.
The Mavericks are 3-1 under new coach Jason Kidd, but the three wins were against some inferior opponents (Rockets, Spurs, Raptors) and their offense appears to have taken a step back. In addition, they had to travel overnight. Can they cover a fourth straight game in Denver? Let’s break down the matchup below.
Mavs Winning, But Luka Hasn’t Gotten Going
The Mavericks squeezed out a win against the Spurs on Thursday evening. Injury-prone big man Kristaps Porzingis was a late scratch with lower back stiffness. Porzingis has really struggled this season, averaging only 12.7 points per game on 30.2% shooting from the field.
Doncic, now 22, began the season as the favorite to win the MVP award. He has started off a bit slow, averaging only 24.3 PPG off 44.7% shooting from the field and 8-for-31 (25.8%) from behind the arc. He is only averaging 4.3 free throw attempts per game, compared to 7.1 last season and 9.2 the season before that.
As I’ve mentioned in previous previews, the NBA is implementing rule changes to prevent “non-basketball moves” in an effort to draw fouls. This works against players like Doncic, whose crafty game is somewhat centered around foul-baiting. Other players like James Harden and Trae Young have seen a similar dip in their numbers as they adjust to the new rules.
The Mavericks continue to hoist up 3-pointers at a high volume. Per NBA Advanced Stats, their 3-point attempt-rate (as a percentage of overall attempts) is 47.3%, which is second in the league behind the Jazz. However, they are only shooting it at a 32.1% clip, only 21st in the league. If their shots start falling, we can see the Mavericks offense of last few seasons come back to life.
The Mavericks have won and covered six of their previous eight games on the second game of a back-to-back, dating back to April of 2021, per our Bet Labs database.
Market Giving Nuggets Too Much Credit at Home?
After winning their season opener against the Phoenix Suns, the 2-2 Nuggets have failed to cover three straight games, including an outright loss to the Cavs.
Michael Porter Jr. has not lived up to the five-year, $205 million dollar extension he signed in the offseason. Entering into this season, he was a favorite to win the Most Improved Player and so far, he has put up a dud, scoring 11.5 PPG off 34.6% shooting from the field. The Nuggets will need him to step up his game if they want to succeed, especially in Jokic’s potential absence.
Jokic is the backbone of this team and if he is absent, the Nuggets do not have the depth and talent to succeed. Last season, the Nuggets Net Rating decreased by 6.4 points when he was off the court, per Basketball Reference. He led the league in Player Efficiency Rating (31.3), Value Over Replacement Player (8.6) and Win Shares (15.6).
With Jamal Murray out with an injury and Porter struggling out the gate, the Nuggets will really struggle if he does not suit up.
The Nuggets have gone 16-22 (42.1%) ATS at home since the beginning of last season, per our Bet Labs database. This may indicate that the market may be too aggressive in assessing Denver’s home-court advantage in the high altitude.
With Jokic questionable, it is tough to put a pregame bet on this game. Opening lines as of early Friday morning show the Nuggets as short favorites. This implies to me that Jokic will play. If he is out, the Nuggets have no business being favorites.
Even if he plays, I do not think he will be as effective as normal. I also anticipate Porzingis will return to the court coming off his rest day to give the Mavericks an extra boost. With the Mavs’ recent run on back-to-backs and the Nuggets’ struggles at home, I give the slight nod to Dallas.
Pick: Lean Mavericks +1.5