Sunday NBA Playoffs Betting Odds, Preview, Prediction for Mavericks vs. Clippers: Can Luka Dončić Carry Dallas in Road Game 7? (June 6)
Glenn James/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Luka Doncic #77 of the Dallas Mavericks.
- The Los Angeles Clippers host the Dallas Mavericks in Sunday's Game 7 showdown.
- Who's going to win the battle between Luka Dončić and Kawhi Leonard in a battle of NBA stars?
- Raheem Palmer breaks down the contest and explains why he's backing Dallas to cover the spread.
Mavericks vs. Clippers Game 7 Odds
|Time||3:30 p.m. ET|
It’s there any better phrase in sports than Game 7?
There is no tomorrow. It’s win or go home. These are the games where legends are made.
Just look at Mario Ellie’s “Kiss of Death” 3-pointer to eliminate the Phoenix Suns in the 1995 Western Conference semifinals, or how about Chris Paul’s game-winning bank shot over Tim Duncan in the first round of the 2015 NBA Playoffs.
Think back to LeBron James’ block on Andre Iguodala in the NBA Finals and Kyrie Irving’s go-ahead 3-pointer in that same game. And, of course, Kawhi Leonard’s game-winning shot against the Philadelphia 76ers in the 2019 Eastern Conference semifinals.
These moments are embedded in our heads forever.
Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue said it best, “Great players perform in big moments.” That’s certainly what Leonard did to get the Clippers here, tying his playoff career-high with 45 points on Friday. The Clippers staved off elimination and now this matchup has seen an NBA-record six straight victories for the road team in a playoff series.
Historically, home teams win Game 7 more than 70% of the time and the Clippers will have to break through and win the first home game in this series in order to advance.
Oddsmakers have installed the Clippers as -6.5-point favorites in Game 7, but based on how this team has performed at home, it’s all meaningless. Despite opening the series as prohibitive favorites at -400, this series has been a dog fight as Luka Doncic has been the best player for much of this series.
Given how the Clippers performed in Game 7 after blowing a 3-1 lead to the Denver Nuggets in the bubble, the pressure is on them to avoid another early playoff exit.
To put it short, this is far from just one game. With Leonard having a player option to become an unrestricted free agent this summer, this could be a franchise altering moment for years to come.
So where’s the betting value in this series deciding matchup?
The Mavericks Need Hot 3-point Shooting
The Mavericks may have let a golden opportunity to close the series slip in Game 6. They held a 67-60 lead with about six minutes to go in the third quarter, before their offense went cold. Over the rest of game, the Mavs shot 11-of-36, including 7-of-24 (29.2%) in the fourth quarter.
Down 90-88, Maxi Kleber (a 44% 3-point shooter this postseason) missed an open 3-pointer that would have given the Mavericks the lead with 3:23 left. Then Leonard went on his own personal 8-2 run to essentially put the game out of reach.
Doncic continues to carry a huge load, finishing Game 6 with a 32.5% Usage Rate and you have to wonder how he will hold up given what’s expected of him. He has a 41% Usage Rate for the series, and while he did score 29 points on 11-of-24 shooting, his 3-point shot wasn’t there in Game 6 as he was just 2-of-9.
Doncic had to deal with Leonard guarding him for longer than he has all series and he was unable to create any offense against him in Game 6. It’ll be interesting how much we see Leonard on Doncic Sunday.
The Mavericks’ 3-point shooting in general hasn’t been nearly dominant as it was in Games 1 and 2 when they hit 47.2% and 52.9% of their deep attempts respectively. They finished 11-of-34 (32.4%) from behind the arc and watching the game, there were periods where they seemingly couldn’t miss and periods where shooting variance abandoned them.
Tim Hardaway Jr. has continued to be a bright spot for this team — he scored 23 points on 9-of-19 shooting — but even his shot abandoned him as he was just 2-of-7 from behind the arc in the second half. It’s a make or miss league and for two teams that depend heavily on their perimeter shooting, these games will have a ton of variance.
The elephant in the room is Kristaps Porzingis who continues to underperform. He finished Game 6 with just seven points on 3-of-7 shooting, including 1-of-3 from behind the arc — it’s the third time in this series he’s scored in single digits. Porzingis is 7-foot-3 but has primarily been used to space the floor, taking the pressure of Doncic when he’s doubled and trapped.
Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle’s big adjustment for this series has been starting Boban Marjanovic along with Porzingis against the small-ball Clippers lineup. It’s worked for large stretches, especially as they went to a zone and the Clippers struggled to hit open shots.
Still, 3-point variance will play a huge role in this game and the Mavericks certainly have a chance at winning their fourth straight road game to advance to the second round.
Can the Clippers Be Trusted in Game 7?
“He destroyed us,” Doncic told reporters after Game 6 referencing Leonard’s 45-point night (on 72% shooting). Leonard nearly outscored the entire Mavericks team in the final 18 minutes of the game (25-30) and was 5-of-5 in the fourth with 12 points in the quarter.
After a Game 5 performance where he scored 20 points and shot an abysmal 1-of-7 from downtown along with five turnovers, Leonard showed us why he’s a two time NBA Finals MVP.
His contributions weren’t limited to the offensive end of the floor either as he also showed why he’s considered one of the best defensive wings in the league. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Doncic shot just 2-of-6 when guarded by Leonard and he held opposing Mavericks players to 11 points on 4-for-13 shooting when he was the primary defender.
When Leonard is at the top of his game, this Clippers team is very difficult to beat but it also helps that Lue has made the necessary adjustments for the Clippers to climb out of a 0-2 hole and come back from down 3-2 to tie the series.
With Doncic essentially playing Patrick Beverly and Ivica Zubac off the floor, Lue has made sure that Zubac isn’t on the court while Doncic is playing. Reggie Jackson entered the starting lineup for Beverley and more importantly, the Clippers are doubling and trapping Doncic more in the pick-and-roll to take the ball out of his hands.
All of this is great but shooting variance continues to plague this team. The Clippers were just 4-of-15 from behind the arc in the first half of Game 6 and while they shot a slightly better in the second half 6-of-19, variance simply hasn’t been on their side.
The Mavericks are hitting their open jumpers and Clippers aren’t, that is a big reason this series is headed for Game 7 as the Clippers are the superior team.
The Clippers had the top 3-point percentage during the regular season (41.1%), but none of that matters Sunday. This is a one-game scenario — win or go home. While the Clippers should win, it’s pretty clear that anything can happen.
Game 7’s are ugly. The intensity, the nerves, the length of the series and the familiarity with your opponent after playing six games often doesn’t make for a high-scoring, run-and-gun affair. This has been a particularly slow paced series anyway as we’re clocking in at an average of just 90.8 possessions a game.
While the first three games went over the total, the last three have gone under and there’s a reason we’ve seen this total get steamed down from the opener of 214 to where it currently sits at 210.5.
I believe a lot of the value has been sucked out of this total, so I can’t recommend an under even given the historical precedent of Game 7s, which have gone under the total around 60% of the time.
That said, it’s pretty clear, these teams have played each other close there’s nothing that I’ve seen that makes me feel like the Clippers should be laying 6.5 points in this spot. They’ve needed fourth quarter collapses from the Mavericks to make it close in Game 5 and to win Game 6. They needed a 45-point performance from Leonard to pull away in Game 6 as well.
I took the Clippers to win the series at -144 after they lost Game 1 and although I have the best of it with them being -286 favorites to win Game 7, I don’t feel comfortable with my position at all.
As I mentioned in my best bet from Friday, I recommended playing the Clippers to win the Series before Game 6 to create a middle or arbitrage situation in which you could potentially bet the Mavericks moneyline at plus money to have plus money on both sides of your bet. You could also take the Mavericks on the spread and create a middle opportunity for yourself where you can hit both bets.
Both offenses are highly dependent on 3-point shooting and this feels a like a game in which anything can happen. Given the familiarity between these two teams, I’m not expecting a blowout.
I’ll play the Mavericks +6.5 here. This game, like many in this series, should come down to the wire and I believe the Mavericks have the best player. If you have the best player on the floor in a basketball game, you have an edge even if the other team is better.
Pick: Dallas Mavericks +6.5 (-110)