Warriors vs. Mavericks Game 3 Preview: Back Dallas and this Strong Trend

Raheem Palmer breaks down Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals between the Golden State Warriors and the Dallas Mavericks.

Warriors vs. Mavericks Odds

Warriors Odds +1.5
Mavericks Odds -1.5
Over/Under 218.5
Time 9 p.m. ET
Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

The Golden State Warriors took a commanding 2-0 series lead with their 126-117 come-from-behind victory over the Dallas Mavericks in Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals on Friday night.

Leading by as many as 19 points, the Mavericks squandered a golden opportunity to tie the series as they scored just 13 third-quarter points, leaving the door ajar for Steph Curry and the Warriors to ultimately seize Game 2.

Nonetheless, oddsmakers have installed the Mavericks as 1.5-point favorites with a total of 218.5, which is a significant adjustment from totals from the first two games of this series.

So where is the betting value for Game 3? Let’s analyze both sides and find out!

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Warriors Looking to Take a Commanding 3-0 Lead

Through the first half of Game 2, the Warriors struggled on the defensive end, allowing 72 first half points on 1.35 points per possession.

Turnovers continue to be an issue for the Warriors, particularly in the first half, as they’re allowing a whopping 11.4 turnovers per game in the first half, which is second among all NBA postseason teams. Fortunately, they took care of the ball in the second half and allowed the Mavericks to score just 40 points on 0.97 points per possession. The Warriors offense heated up and scored 68 points on 1.51 points per possession to pull off the 126-117 victory.

Overall, the Warriors have more advantages in this matchup, and outside of turning the ball over consistently or getting outscored from 3, they were rightfully favored to win this series. The Warriors were 36-of-53 (67.9%) on 2-point field goals in Game 1 and 32-of-54 (59%) in Game 2.

While the Mavericks ran the Warriors off the 3-point line, the Warriors have other ways of scoring: in transition by running off makes and misses; in the half court with back cuts; breaking down the defense on switches; and on offensive rebounds where they’re rebounding 22.4% of their misses in this series.

Kevon Looney has been huge for the Warriors, averaging 15.5 points and 8.5 rebounds in this series. Consequently, the Warriors were better without Draymond Green in Game 2, scoring 1.43 points per possession in the 20 minutes with Green off the floor vs. 1.13 points per possession in the 28 minutes with him on the floor. It’s clear that going four-out with either Green or Looney on the floor will drastically help the Warriors’ spacing.

Still, the Warriors have strength in numbers in the ways that they did during their dynasty from 2015 through 2018. On any given night, anyone could step up as they got 32 from Curry, 21 from Looney, 15 from Klay Thompson, 16 from Andrew Wiggins and 23 from Jordan Poole off the bench.

The Warriors still haven’t gotten a vintage Curry performance, but much of that is because the Mavericks are constantly putting Curry in pick and rolls. In a road Game 3, it wouldn’t surprise me to see him in foul trouble. You could say the same from Green who fouled out in Game 2 and was on the edge of getting ejected for much of the game.

While the Warriors are up 2-0 and have the edge based on matchups, they’ll have to slow down the Mavericks’ 3-point shooting onslaught, a home whistle, and a desperate performance if they want to go up 3-0 in this series.

Will the Mavericks Hit Enough 3s to Win Game 3?

It all start and ends with Doncic for the Mavericks.

He started Game 2 with a bang with 18 first-half points, eventually finishing with 42 points on 12-of-23 (52.2%) shooting along with eight assists and five rebounds. His stellar play along with the hot 3-point shooting of the supporting cast helped the Mavericks score 72 first-half points as they led by as much as 19.

The Mavericks consistently spammed the Doncic and Reggie Bullock pick-and-roll as they looked to hunt and wear down Curry on the defensive end. The Mavericks scored 1.7 points per possession on the 29 plays in which Bullock set screens when Doncic was the ball handler, allowing Doncic to score one-on-one or Bullock to hit open 3s.

With the Warriors adjusting by moving Curry onto Dorian Finney-Smith, the Mavericks went away from the action and eventually struggled to find the same level of success for the rest of the game.

The Mavericks’ path to winning this series involves their ability to hit the 3, and for much of the game they did that. The Mavericks were 15-of-27 (55.6%) from behind the arc in the first half, and with their volume and efficiency, it’s tough for even the Warriors to keep up when they’re shooting that well. However, they cooled down in the third quarter, going 2-of-13 (15.4%) from 3, eventually finishing 6-of-18 (33.3%).

Despite the cold stretch from the Mavericks, this game was also lost on the defensive end of the floor as they allowed 126 points on 1.30 points per possession. The Mavericks had a ton of defensive breakdowns in the second half, and given the pressure this Warriors team puts on teams, it may not be something they have an answer for.

Nevertheless, the Mavericks offense can compete in this series, and without a 2-of-13 (15.4%) stretch from 3, the Mavericks are likely tied 1-1 going home. With the way the Mavericks have performed at home, one has to give this Mavericks team the benefit of the doubt in Game 3.

Warriors-Mavericks Pick

The Mavericks are 4-1 at home with Doncic in the lineup this postseason, winning by an average of 12 points per game.

Nonetheless, given the impact of home court advantage throughout the NBA Playoffs, one of the most profitable angles has been backing teams down 0-2 in both the first quarter and first half of games.

The logic is simple: no team has overcome a 3-0 deficit to win a seven-game playoff series in NBA history, and thus the sense of urgency teams feel when down 0-2 means they’re playing harder than the opposing team, particularly at the start of games with the home crowd behind them.

Since the 2015-16 season, this trend is 36-12-1 ATS, hitting a whopping 75% of the time. If you blindly bet this for $100 each time, you would be up $2,147. While this trend is now priced in with oddsmakers, forcing you to lay the same number for the first half and full game, it is 4-2 in the postseason this year, so it’s still profitable if you can pick your spot.

This feels like a good spot to play this angle as the Mavericks have been a dominant home team, and with their ability to shoot the 3 in addition to a home whistle, they should get the job done here.

I like the Mavericks to win this game, but the stronger play is on the first-half spread. Since the Mavericks’ path to winning involves hitting a ton of 3s, and they don’t have many answers for the Warriors offense, I’ll also play this game over the total as well.

Pick: Dallas Mavericks 1H -2.5 |Dallas Mavericks Full Game -3 | Over 218.5