Clippers vs. Mavericks Odds, Game 3 Preview, Prediction: LA in Desperation Mode as Series Shifts to Dallas (Friday, May 28)
Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Luka Doncic and Kawhi Leonard.
- The Clippers-Mavericks series heads to Dallas on Friday night with the Mavs in possession of a 2-0 lead.
- Luka Doncic & Co. have been red hot from behind the arc against a Clippers defense struggling to find its regular-season form.
- Kenny Ducey breaks down why he expects the Mavericks offense to cool off and for Los Angeles to get its first win.
Clippers vs. Mavericks Odds
|Moneyline||-125 / +105|
|Time||9:30 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Thursday and via DraftKings.|
With so much going right for the Mavericks, is it time to finally fade them in what's sure to be a big let-down spot? The numbers have been dumbfounding, and a defense as good as the Clippers' surely won't falter like this once again, right? Let's look into the matchup to find some value.
Missing: Clippers Defense
Yikes, Clippers. The decisive favorites to win this series and perhaps make it all the way to the Western Conference Finals have fallen behind 2-0 to the five-seed out West, who just a few weeks ago was fighting to avoid the play-in tournament.
LA has shot 32.9% from three, but that isn't what's held them back. Despite being largely inefficient with so many missed threes, the Clippers have still managed a 121.1 offensive rating through two games, and Kawhi Leonard has done all he can on that end, scoring 41 last time out and hitting 53.5% of his looks from the field. Generally speaking, when the Clippers have needed buckets, they've been able to get them.
What's been more of a challenge is the defensive side of the ball. LA has had the worst defensive efficiency rating of any playoff team, allowing 128.3 points per 100 possessions, and has no answer for a Dallas offense that has absolutely caught fire of late.
Patrick Beverley has played just 20.5 minutes per game and could be the answer in extended time, but the answer probably lies with the current players on the roster. This team ranked eighth in defensive efficiency all season long and needs a focused and sustained performance on Friday. It's worth noting here that the team could be without Serge Ibaka, who played just six minutes on Thursday. His absence wouldn't be the biggest deal in the world, but it certainly wouldn't help LA's chances.
Mavericks Offense Will Eventually Regress
The Mavericks have ranked inside the top 10 in offensive efficiency all season long, and were sixth in the last 15 games of the regular season, so it should come as no surprise that they've gone absolutely bonkers in the scoring department.
Still, some of the shots that we've seen taken — and made — have been astonishing. Luka Doncic, Kristaps Porzingis and even Tim Hardaway Jr. are all just launching from near the logo without any hesitation at all and sinking the Clippers with every shot.
The question here is, how sustainable is a 128.3 offensive rating? Well, it's surely not going to stay at that level all series long, and the Mavs aren't going to keep knocking down 50% of their looks from deep, as they have been against the Clippers. In fact, only 55.7% of Dallas' attempts are coming from inside the three-point line, and no team has attempted fewer shots from inside 10 feet than the Mavericks, who have averaged 27.5.
To suggest there will be a regression here is an understatement. You can't expect a team that relies on the three this heavily to continue to knock down half of the looks they get. Regardless of the defense on the other end of the floor, you'd bet on every team to cool down in this spot.
That leads me right into my pick. The Clippers allowed opponents to shoot just 35.5% from three all season long, which was the sixth-best mark in the league. On top of that, we've already gone over how great this team has been defensively this year, and they're nearly at full strength with just the injury to Ibaka lingering here.
Dallas will eventually see fewer threes fall in a postseason game, and when that happens things will be bleak for this team considering how mediocre it's played on defense. I'm betting on that night to be Friday, against a Clippers team that has done little wrong on offense and has exploited a lackluster Dallas defense to this point. The defense should eventually show up here and pull back a win to get LA in the series once again.
Pick: Clippers ML (-125)