Bucks vs. Mavericks Odds, Preview, Prediction: Expect Slow Pace in Thursday’s Matchup (December 23)

Bucks vs. Mavericks Odds, Preview, Prediction: Expect Slow Pace in Thursday’s Matchup (December 23) article feature image
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Glenn James/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Jalen Brunson #13 of the Dallas Mavericks.

  • Updated odds for Bucks vs. Mavericks list Milwaukee as a 3-point favorite, which is down two points over the last day. The total has also dropped from 212.5 to 209.5 or even 208.5, depending on the sportsbook.
  • Tyler Schmidt was ahead of the line move on the total, and took the under as both teams are missing key offensive pieces.
  • Get his full Bucks vs. Mavs preview and betting pick below.

Bucks vs. Mavericks Odds

Bucks Odds -3
Mavericks Odds +3
Over/Under 209.5
Time 8:30 p.m. ET
TV NBA TV
Odds via BetMGM, updated at 4 p.m. ET on Thursday. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

We are two days away from one of the biggest days in the NBA, which is Christmas Day basketball. The Milwaukee Bucks will be playing on Christmas Day and I would expect their superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo will be ready.

However, tonight he will likely still be out due to the Covid protocols.

For the Dallas Mavericks, Luka Doncic is in the Covid protocols. No Doncic or Giannis makes this matchup between the Bucks and Mavericks not as enticing.

There is still a betting angle that I found, so we can still make some money on what will be a very slow-paced game tonight. Let’s dive in.

Can the Bucks Hot Streak Continue Without Antetokounmpo?

The Bucks are slowly getting back into form as they have won 14 of their last 19 games to bring their record to 20-13 this season. Despite their recent surge of victories, they still have a 9-8 record on the road. Tonight will be their third game in four nights as they will host the Celtics on Christmas Day.

The major news to watch for the Bucks is the status of Antetokounmpo who went into the Covid protocols on Dec. 14. I would imagine he sits out and returns on Christmas Day, but keep an eye on his status for tonight. Bobby Portis went on the Covid list two days after Giannis so he is also likely to sit tonight.

One other thing is I would also monitor the status of Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton. With this game being a back-to-back, their third game in four nights, and the Bucks having to be healthy for their Christmas Day game, I could definitely see one if not both of them sitting in this matchup. Both Holiday and Middleton have missed random games this season and this game seems like a prime candidate for one if not both to sit again.

The Bucks had won 11 of their last 13 games with Giannis in the lineup, so losing him is a big loss. He leads the team in points, rebounds, and blocks this season.

His 27.0 points per game is fourth in the entire league and his 11.6 rebounds per game is tied for the fifth-most in the league. The reigning Finals MVP is having another spectacular season thus far.

Without Giannis in the lineup, the Bucks are 3-4 this season. They have been underdogs in five of those seven games. The Bucks have been actually better offensively without Giannis this season, but they really take a hit defensively. Their Defensive Rating drops from 107.9 to 111.7 without Giannis in the lineup.

The under has been hitting at a 58% clip in Bucks games this season. The under percentage increases with Giannis not in the lineup. If Middleton or Holiday are also out, I think scoring will be difficult for this Bucks team tonight.


Will the Home Underdog Mavericks Keep it Close?

The Mavericks are playing their fourth home game in their last five games. The Mavericks only home loss during that stretch was in overtime to the Los Angeles Lakers. They are playing well despite their injury situation.

Doncic has been out for their last five games due to injury and just yesterday was placed in the Covid protocols, so he will be out tonight.

Doncic has missed nine total games already, so we do have a little bit of a sample size to go off of. Without Doncic this season the Mavericks are just 3-6, but have covered in five of those nine games with the under hitting in six games. Jalen Brunson will be their main ball handler without Doncic and he has stepped up in a big way this season. Brunson is averaging a career-high 15.3 points per game.

On the season the Mavericks have had their games go under the total in 18 of their 30 games this season. During their home games the under has hit in 10 of their 15 home games. Lastly as underdogs, the under has hit in nine of their 15 games. Their is an obvious reason the under has hit in a majority of the Mavericks games this season. They play at the lowest Pace in the league.

The Mavericks have also been below average offensively. They rank 20th in Offensive Rating and have scored only 104.7 points per game, which is the fifth-least amount of points in the league.

Losing Doncic is a big loss as he leads the Mavericks in points, rebounds, and assists this season. He has led the team in points and assists for four straight seasons, and rebounds in three of the last four seasons.

Not only is Doncic out due to the Covid protocols, but so is Trey Burke, Maxi Kleber, and Tim Hardaway Jr. To make matters worse, Kristaps Porzingis is listed as questionable to play tonight. This Mavericks team will be struggling to score tonight, especially when they have trouble when they are all healthy.

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Bucks-Mavericks Pick

I am treating this game as if Giannis Antetokounmpo is not coming out of the Covid protocols and there is a chance that the Bucks are also playing without Jrue Holiday and/or Khris Middleton. The Mavericks are already without Doncic and Tim Hardaway Jr. and could also be without Kristaps Porzingis.

With so many key pieces out in this game, I am going with the under 212.5 points as my favorite bet for this game. As I mentioned, the Pace for the Mavericks is snail-level slow. It is even slower without Doncic in the lineup.

The Bucks also play at an incredibly slow Pace when Giannis isn’t in the lineup. Their Pace drops from 99.04 to 94.53. I envision this game being sloppy with both teams playing slow and having a tough time scoring tonight.

Pick: Under 212.5 (-110)

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