Lakers vs. Mavericks Odds, Pick, Prediction: Back LeBron as Rare Underdog (December 15)
Robert Gauthier/Getty Images. Pictured: LeBron James
- The Lakers head to Dallas on Wednesday night as an underdog.
- The Mavericks will be without Luka Doncic, but they've actually done well without him on the court this season.
- Joe Dellera breaks down the matchup and delivers his betting pick below.
Lakers vs. Mavericks Odds
|Time||7:30 p.m. ET|
|Odds via Caesars. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.|
LeBron and the Lakers head to Dallas to take on the Mavericks who will be without Luka Doncic for a third consecutive contest due to left ankle soreness.
The Lakers have been on a roll, and while the Mavericks have won two in a row those wins have come against the Hornets without Lamelo Ball and the lowly Thunder.
Lakers Surging with LeBron James Healthy
Talen Horton-Tucker tested positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday, and while he is the only positive at this time, this is something to monitor. The Lakers have listed a few others on their injury report as well. LeBron James (abdominal) is probable while Anthony Davis (knee) is questionable.
The Lakers have rounded into form over the last two weeks as they are 4-2 with the fourth-best Point Differential in the league, +8.5, per Cleaning the Glass. While the offense is humming, they are allowing just 105.4 points per 100 possessions on the defensive side of the ball. They’ve truly locked down in the halfcourt and are allowing just 85.6 points per 100 halfcourt plays, third-best over this stretch.
At the end of the day, the key for the Lakers has been the health of LeBron. LeBron is a team-best +10.7 points per 100 possessions when he’s on the floor as he commands this offense.
What’s been interesting is if you were told one of the Lakers’ Big 3 was a -1.2 and the other was a -6.5, many would guess that the worst player was Russell Westbrook when it actually has been Anthony Davis. This is not really an indictment on either Westbrook or Davis, but it certainly shows that there are still some growing pains.
Westbrook and Davis have struggled to play together without LeBron at the helm considering they are 10 points per 100 possessions better with LeBron. than when Westbrook and Davis are on the floor alone.
Can the Mavericks Survive Without Luka Doncic?
The Mavericks will be without Luka Doncic (ankle) and Willie Cauley-Stein (personal) for this game while Sterling Brown (foot) is questionable for this matchup.
Although they have won their last two games, which were both without Doncic, they lost each of the other four games this season when Luka did not play by an average margin of seven points.
The Mavericks have struggled a bit this year despite their 14-13 record due to their anemic offensive output. The Mavericks are scoring just 109.0 points per 100 possessions on the season, which is about league average, but is a sharp downturn from their 116.2 mark last year and 116.9 the year prior.
Part of this has to do with their shot selection. They basically never get to the rim, and then they have only converted on 33.2% of their 3-point attempts, per Cleaning the Glass. While it’s not imperative that a team exclusively take and make shots at the rim and from 3, it certainly does not help to be struggling from those areas.
The Lakers are healthier at this point, and even though Kristaps Porzingis played great against the Hornets, he did not have to contend with a lengthy defender like Anthony Davis. This is a much tougher matchup for him, and without Doncic to take the pressure off and facilitate, this could get ugly fast.
These teams are close in Net Rating, and when factoring in strength of schedule, the Mavericks are actually 0.8 points better than the Lakers. However, that does not capture the impact of Doncic’s injury and the Lakers being at relatively full health.
Obviously, the absence of Luka Doncic against this Lakers team is significant. While Jalen Brunson has played well in his absence, he is not an All-NBA talent like Doncic. Had the Mavericks not won two in a row without Doncic, I think this line would be different.
The Mavericks laying 2.5 points to LeBron when they’re without Doncic is stunning to me, and I’m comfortable taking the Moneyline here as well.
Pick: Lakers +2.5 and Lakers Moneyline (+112)