Lakers vs. Mavericks Odds & Expert Picks: Best Bets for NBA Christmas (December 25)

Lakers vs. Mavericks Odds & Expert Picks: Best Bets for NBA Christmas (December 25) article feature image

Michael Gonzales/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: LeBron James #6 of the Los Angeles Lakers.

  • The Lakers are heavy road underdogs on Christmas against the Mavericks.
  • Joe Dellera dives into the matchup and considers why the Mavericks have struggled to blow teams out.
  • Check out his best bet and analysis below.

Lakers vs. Mavericks Odds

Lakers Odds+8.5
Mavericks Odds-8.5
Time2:30 p.m. ET
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

Game 2 of NBA Christmas pits two of the league's biggest stars — LeBron James and Luka Doncic — against each other.

Neither team is having the start they envisioned to this season, with the Lakers sitting at 13-19, while the Mavericks are sitting at 17-16 and are just barely in the Play-In Tournament.

Despite the struggles, the feeling is that Doncic is playing at an MVP level and the Mavericks will figure it out. Meanwhile, the Lakers are a roster that is often marred with injuries and desperately in need of a trade to compete.

Can the Lakers keep it close on Christmas, or will Luka send them home with coal in their stockings?

Count on The King on Christmas Day

The Lakers will continue to be without Anthony Davis, who is dealing with a "stress reaction" in his right foot.

While James and Russell Westbrook have been on the injury report on numerous occasions, I'd truly be stunned if they skipped a Christmas Day game.

LeBron has been a Christmas Day staple for his entire career. In 16 games, he has averaged 26.4 points, 7.8 rebounds and 7.1 assists. He should play big minutes in this contest, and I'd expect another well-rounded performance from the King.

I wrote at length about how LeBron and the Lakers perform without Anthony Davis — and how to bet on their props — in my weekly Player Props Forecast that drops every Monday.

One prop I'm eying is LeBron to score 30+ points, a number that he has exceeded in 29 of 39 (74%) games without Anthony Davis over the past two seasons.

The Lakers have not been very good this season, but much of this is due to their absolutely miserable 2-10 start to the season. Since then, they are 11-8, and were playing well until Davis went out with his injury.

In the four games without Davis, the Lakers are an ugly 1-3 with a -9.9 point differential. Their issue has been their defense, and they are getting crushed on the glass while allowing their opponents plenty of rebounding opportunities.

Fortunately for the Lakers, this is something the Mavericks will struggle to capitalize on with their league-worst 47.7% Rebound%.

Too Much Luka For Mavs?

The Mavericks were without a few players for their Friday night game against the Rockets, so we will need to keep an eye on their Christmas Day status. Those players are Dorian Finney-Smith (adductor), Jaden Hardy (back), Maxi Kleber (hamstring), Josh Green (elbow) and Kemba Walker (injury recovery).

Kemba should play on Christmas, considering this was a planned rest day.

The Mavericks have been incredibly underwhelming this season. Doncic is having an absolutely transcendent season — with averages of 32.8 points, 8.7 assists and 8.3 rebounds, including a 50 burger on Friday night against the Houston Rockets — but therein lies the problem.

Opposing teams know the Mavericks live and die with Doncic. He has a Usage Rate of 42.2% and is the engine for this team. There has even been dialogue about whether or not Luka should even try to involve his teammates more or whether he needs to shoulder an even higher Usage.

This is a good example of what I mean. Luka is taking some of the toughest looks from 3, yet is shooting the same or better than his teammates who are getting the easiest looks (Finney-Smith, Bullock).

The fact that Luka tries to set his teammates up with the easiest looks yet he’s shooting the same/better on way harder looks says a lot about that Dallas team rn 🤦‍♂️

— Joe Dellera (@JoeDellera) December 23, 2022

As a result, we can see that the rest of the team has struggled. Luka does not have the best point differential on the team (although +8.5 is still excellent), but the team overall is just a +2.5 in point differential.

When Luka comes off the floor, the Mavs drop to -3.4 and simply cannot score, tallying just 105.6 points per 100 possessions.

Luka does not see many possessions on the bench, but it's about the Mavericks surviving the non-Luka minutes. They struggle to take care of teams they should because the rest of the roster is lacking.

Lakers-Mavericks Pick

At the time of this writing, the spread is set at Mavericks -8.5, which is simply too many points.

Yeah, I know that's such a ridiculous phrase, but this is why it matters. The Mavericks have won 17 games this season, but just five of them have come by double digits. They are one of the worst teams against the spread, with a record of just 11-20-2 and 8-17-1 ATS as a favorite.

The Lakers have not been great ATS either, but that's largely because people overvalue teams with LeBron, and I think that's counterbalanced by Luka in this spot.

The Lakers should be able to keep this close, and it's helpful to them that the Mavericks do not get out in transition often. They are a decent rebounding team even without Davis, and they should be able to cut down on extra possessions for the Mavericks.

Additionally, the Mavericks' defense is weak on the interior, and with LeBron at the helm, this team should look to find easy layups while pushing in transition.

With LeBron on the floor and AD out, the Lakers get out in transition at a higher rate, especially off rebounds. This is an edge against a relatively weak Dallas transition defense.

The Mavericks do not win big and games oftentimes stay close because they do not have the firepower outside of Luka to blow teams out.

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