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NBA Odds, Preview, Prediction Mavericks vs. Clippers Game 2: Luka Doncic, Dallas Are Underdogs Once Again (May 25)

NBA Odds, Preview, Prediction Mavericks vs. Clippers Game 2: Luka Doncic, Dallas Are Underdogs Once Again (May 25) article feature image

Juan Ocampo/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Luka Doncic.

  • The Clippers and Mavericks meet in Game 2 after Dallas pulled an upset in the first game of the series.
  • Los Angeles is once again a sizable (-265) favorite to avoid falling in an 0-2 series hole.
  • Matthew Trebby explains why he's backing Luka Doncic and the Mavs, however, to pull off consecutive upsets.

Mavericks vs. Clippers Odds

Mavericks Odds +6.5
Clippers Odds -6.5
Moneyline +210 / -265
Over/Under 216
Time Tuesday, 10:30 p.m. ET
Odds as of Monday and via DraftKings

Los Angeles Clippers fans must feel like they’re experiencing deja vu.

Coming off a regular season that should have the Clippers feeling good about ridding themselves of the bubble’s playoff failure, they find themselves down 1-0 in the first round against the Dallas Mavericks. Game 2 at Staples Center is a must-win for Los Angeles, although it might not be as easy as flipping a switch.

The Mavericks ended the season playing well and continued their strong form in Game 1, riding a Luka Doncic triple-double to an early series lead.

Let’s break down the betting value in Game 2 to see whether Dallas can be trusted to cover for a seventh time in nine games.

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It’s The Doncic Show

The Mavericks appear to have hit their stride at just the right moment, especially on offense. Dallas ended the regular season 7-3 in its last 10 games and registered a 118.3 Offensive Rating during that span, which ranked fourth in the NBA according to NBA Advanced Stats.

In Game 1 against the Clippers, that number climbed to 128.4. Dallas only scored 113 points because it played at a snail’s pace of 87.50.

It’s fair to assume that Dallas is not going to shoot 47.2% (17-of-36) from 3-point range every game, but it was huge for the Mavs to take at least one game in Los Angeles. Now comes to daunting task of trying to keep the Clippers at bay again in Game 2.

Doncic had an impressive triple-double in 41 minutes, while Dorian Finney-Smith and Tim Hardaway Jr. combined to shoot 9-of-14 from 3-point range. With Kristaps Porzingis shooting just 4-of-13 from the field, the duo’s hot night on the perimeter was the difference in holding off the Clippers.

It was the Doncic show, though. He’s content slowing down the pace and doing all he can to get a mismatch. One year after the Mavericks got bounced in the bubble version of the playoffs by the Clippers, the Slovenian sensation was even more comfortable in Game 1.

The Mavericks are also hitting their stride at the right moment for bettors. They closed the regular season by covering in five of their last seven games, before delivering an outright win in Game 1 with their moneyline at +206.

Can Clippers Keep Up?

The Clippers’ 118.4 Offensive Rating would indicate that they were good enough offensively to win the game, but the snail’s pace and an inability to contain Doncic did them in. Now, they face the prospect of going down 2-0 at home, which would sound the alarm bells for a team looking to avoid another disastrous playoff loss.

Obviously, the defensive problem was containing Doncic, who was able to dictate the pace of the game and draw enough attention so the likes of Finney-Smith and Hardaway could get clean looks on the perimeter. That’s going to be a tough fix for Los Angeles.

Teams have been trying to figure out Doncic since he entered the league, but his clever nature makes him a nearly impossible task to contain. If the Clippers defend the way they did in Game 1, their best hope will be that Dallas’ shooting slows down.

Offensively, there is definitely room for improvement for the Clippers, and it starts with their dynamic duo.

Kawhi Leonard and Paul George combined to shoot 17-of-40 from the field (42.5%), which isn’t totally disastrous but probably needs to be better. What definitely has to improve is the duo’s 3-of-14 shooting from 3-point range.

Perimeter shooting is where Los Angeles is going to make up a lot of ground on Dallas. While the Mavs shot extremely well on 3-pointers in Game 1, the Clippers were just 11-of-40 as a team, and that’s with Nicolas Batum and Rajon Rondo combining to go 6-of-11.

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Mavericks-Clippers Pick

I don’t expect Game 2 to be played at a totally different, fast-break pace, but I think the Clippers try to speed things up a bit and really test Doncic’s ability to manage the game. Also, there’s some positive regression coming from 3-point range for the Clippers, while I don’t see much inefficiency to come from Dallas because Doncic creates so many great looks and can score himself.

The Mavericks’ superstar playmaker looks even better this year in the playoffs and unless the Clippers shoot the lights out in any game, I don’t see this being a blowout. As simple as it sounds, each game in this series is going to come down to which side is able to shoot well from the perimeter. In Game 1, advantage Dallas.

That said, I think Doncic’s efficiency and playmaking gives the Mavericks a very high floor. Unless the Clippers hit 60% of their 3-pointers in the first half, Dallas is going to be able to hang with them. There might be a clunker along the way if the 40-plus minutes per game catches up to Doncic one game, but after a week of rest, I don’t see that happening in Game 2.

I’ll back Dallas to keep this one close and really make the Clippers worried. Regardless of whether the Mavs pull out Game 2, I like their chances of keeping it close and will take the 6.5 points being offered right now.

Pick: Mavericks +6.5

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