Mavs vs Cavs Pick, Prediction Today | NBA Best Bet for Tuesday

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Ron Jenkins/Getty Images. Pictured: Luka Doncic of the Dallas Mavericks.

Mavs vs Cavs Pick, Prediction Today | NBA Best Bet for Tuesday

Tuesday, Feb. 27
7 p.m.
League Pass
Under 233.5 · Mavericks +4.5

Here's everything you need to know about Mavericks vs. Cavaliers on Tuesday, Feb. 27 — my expert Mavs vs Cavs pick and prediction today for our NBA best bet.

The addition of the play-in tournament can offer a compelling finish to an NBA season. I particularly like how the bottom two seeds have to face a single-elimination game in each tournament round, while the top two seeds can lose their first game and still advance with a win in the second contest.

Thus, even though all four teams have to win at least one single-elimination game to advance, there's a clear distinction between finishing seventh or eighth and ninth and 10th.

Dallas is one team that might find itself trying to navigate a postseason path through the play-in tournament. It's currently the eighth seed in the West, but it trails the fifth-seeded Suns by only a half-game.

The Mavericks used a seven-game winning streak to help climb up the standings. However, their winning streak ended with a 133-111 blowout loss on the road to the Pacers on Sunday.

Now, the Mavericks will head to Cleveland to face a Cavaliers team that's won 19 of their last 23 games. This is a fascinating game because while it's a good bounce-back spot for the Mavericks, the Cavaliers are power-rated as a top-five team in the league.

In this betting preview, I'll share why the total might offer the best value for bettors.

Let's get to my Mavericks vs. Cavaliers prediction and pick.


Mavs vs Cavs Pick, Best Bet

Best Bet: Under 233.5 (-113)

Bonus Pick: 0.5 Units on Mavericks +4.5 (-105)

Mavericks Betting Outlook

There are always little signs one can pick up in an NBA season. Winning streaks offer a good opportunity to assess just how well a team is playing and whether we can point to anything specific that's led to their improved success.

If we examine the Mavericks, their recent surge really began when Kyrie Irving returned to the court on Feb. 5 against the 76ers after missing six games with a thumb injury. With Irving rejoining the team, the Mavericks went on a seven-game run.

This season, the Mavericks are 22-13 (.629) with Irving in the lineup and just 11-11 without him.

However, simply having a long winning streak doesn't necessarily mean a team is playing good basketball. We always have to consider the luck factor and whether a team is winning games by tight margins or simply beating up on weaker opponents.

I tend to place greater emphasis on a team's defensive metrics when it's on a winning streak compared to its offensive numbers. The thought is that good defense requires more effort and commitment, and the teams that achieve this also communicate efficiently.

Effective communication can help bring a team closer together because it forges an understanding of teamwork and each player's responsibility on the court.

In the Mavericks' case, they stepped up their defense during the winning streak, posting a league-best 104.5 defensive rating, per NBA.com. If we look at their defensive rating for the season, the Mavs rank 21st with a 116.4 rating.

Thus, with Irving in the lineup and the Mavericks showing more significant commitment defensively, I wouldn't read too much into their blowout loss against the Pacers.

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Cavaliers Betting Outlook

The Cavaliers certainly know a thing or two about streaking. Since the turn of the new year, they won eight consecutive games and nine games to move behind the top-seeded Celtics in the Eastern Conference.

What impressed me about this Cavaliers run was they were missing key players like Darius Garland (18.2 PPG) and Evan Mobley (15.7 PPG). Neither player has played in more than 33 of the Cavaliers' 56 games this season.

Instead, the Cavaliers relied on their defense, and during their 17-1 run that began on Jan. 3, their 104.2 defensive rating was the best mark in the league.

For comparison, the Cavaliers ranked third in offensive efficiency (121.1) behind a Jazz team with a 121.5 rating. Still, Utah went just 11-8 during that time frame because it was 26th with a 120.4 defensive rating.

Those numbers add further credence to my belief that defense tends to be more of a deciding factor when it comes to winning and losing games.

Moreover, the top four teams in defensive efficiency — the Timberwolves, Cavaliers, Celtics and Thunder — also have the fewest losses in the league. But if you look at the top four teams in offensive efficiency, only the Celtics and Thunder rank in the top four in terms of wins this season.


Mavericks vs Cavaliers Odds

Tuesday, Feb 27
7:00pm ET
BSOH
Mavericks Odds
SpreadTotalMoneyline
+4.5
-112
233.5
-110o / -110u
+154
Cavaliers Odds
SpreadTotalMoneyline
-4.5
-108
233.5
-110o / -110u
-185
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

Before digging into the weeds of any handicap, I always begin by running my matchup projections and assessing where both teams fall in my power ratings. It's only after I've completed this process that I then look at the market odds.

While I readily admit that I was looking to back the Mavericks in this matchup, I was surprised to see Dallas only catching 4.5 points when my model projects it to be a 6.5-point underdog.

As a result, I struggled to recommend backing the Mavericks at the current number.

However, one stat that gives me a reason to pause is how the Mavericks perform against the spread when coming off a loss of 22 or more points. According to our Action Labs database, Dallas is 50-19 in this spot for 28.7 units. The Grizzlies have the second-best mark at 46-34-1, but it's worth noting that 19.27 units separates the two teams.

What's interesting is that if we refine our parameters to include Dallas as an underdog, its ATS mark improves to 27-6 (81.8%) and 18-3 (85.7%) when it's an underdog on the road.

Those numbers are so mouthwatering that you almost have to bet the Mavericks with the points here on principle — even if it's just half your average unit outlay.

But the total is where my model shows the most significant edge, considering my projection is closer to 226 points with the market as high as 233.5 at one sportsbook.

This total opened at 232.5, and the betting market has clearly taken a position on the over. However, when Mavericks totals have been bet up with an opening number of 232.5 or higher this season, the under has gone 14-8 (63.6%). This angle is also on a 5-0 run.

I don't think the market has entirely caught up to the Mavericks being better defensively because, per Killer Sports, they have the sixth-highest average total at 236.1, but they're 29-27-1 to the under. In comparison, four of the six teams with the highest average total have hit the over more than 50% of the time.

Thus, my best bet in this matchup is the under at 233.5, and I'll also take a small piece of the Mavericks at +4.5 or better.

Best Bet: Under 233.5 (-113)

Bonus Pick: 0.5 Units on Mavericks +4.5 (-105)

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