Nuggets vs. Mavericks: No Jokic, No Murray, No Scoring

With the Nuggets missing both Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray, and with the Mavs' defense humming, the under is your best bet Sunday.

Nuggets vs. Mavericks Odds

Nuggets Odds +9.5
Mavericks Odds -9.5
Over/Under 217.5
Time 7:30 p.m. ET
TV NBA League Pass
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

The Denver Nuggets face the Dallas Mavericks once again fresh off a blowout loss on Friday night. Can Denver make the adjustments necessary to compete? Let’s dig in.

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Regression and Addition for the Nuggets?

The Nuggets will have to make adjustments if they want to avoid another 28-point blowout in Dallas. They will be without Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray once again, but Aaron Gordon has a chance to return.

It’s hard to be optimistic about their chances given how they looked on Friday. They allowed the Mavericks to score at will, but I like their chances to improve given the fact that they just faced them and should be able to catch on to some tendencies.

Even if they made no adjustments, they should improve just based off of simple regression; the Mavericks literally had a 100th percentile offensive rating performance on Friday night. It’s highly unlikely that the Nuggets get lit up like that again, and the potential return of Gordon should help them massively on the defensive end.

Another reason I expect Denver to improve is that their process wasn’t awful on Friday. They forced Dallas to a slightly below average 3-point attempt rate (36%) than their average. They also did a decent job at limiting the rim, allowing just 35% of attempts to be taken at the rim.

Ultimately, the Nuggets’ process wasn’t completely awful which indicates that they may be due for some positive regression tonight.

Mavericks Trusting the (Defensive) Process

The Mavericks pretty much got whatever they wanted on Friday, and it showed in the box score, with Dallas finishing 46-77 (59.7%) from the field and shooting 40.6% from 3. Overall, they finished with an effective field goal of 71.3%, averaging 148.8 points per 100 possessions (100th percentile). It was complete domination, but it is extremely unlikely that we see that level of efficiency again in a back-to-back situation.

What should be repeatable is Dallas’ ability to get stops. This Denver offense just isn’t the same without Jokic and Murray. They are devoid of playmakers, and that is obviously an issue when you are going against an elite defense like Dallas. Their process on Friday night was terrific, as they did a great job protecting the rim and the 3-point line. Denver had just a 24% rim attempt rate and a 29% three point attempt rate. Both of these are excellent rates, and the Nuggets should have issues scoring tonight.

Denver Nuggets vs Dallas Mavericks Prediction, Pick

If you couldn’t tell already, I like the under a lot in this spot. The first game between these two was molasses slow, with each team playing just 80 possessions. I expect this to repeat, and the potential return of Aaron Gordon should massively improve the Denver defense.

Neither defense had a bad process on Friday night and they should only be more familiar with each other after playing just two days ago. Take the under 217.5 in Nuggets/Mavericks.

Pick: Under 217.5 (-110)