Mavericks vs. Lakers Odds, Pick, Prediction: Back Lakers Early at Home

Mavericks vs. Lakers Odds, Pick, Prediction: Back Lakers Early at Home article feature image

Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images. Pictured: LeBron James #6 and Russell Westbrook #0 of the Los Angeles Lakers.

  • The Lakers host the Mavericks, who have been in LA for a few days after losing to the Clippers on Tuesday.
  • Meanwhile, the Lakers have performed well in the first half at home and our expert thinks there's value to be had.
  • Andrew O'Connor-Watts digs into this matchup and offers up his best bet below.

Mavericks vs. Lakers Odds

Mavericks Odds-156
Lakers Odds+132
Time10 p.m. ET
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

The Dallas Mavericks are coming off a blowout loss to the Clippers on Tuesday and will face the Los Angeles Lakers Thursday night.

The Lakers lost to Dallas 115-124 on Christmas Day after a 51-point quarter propelled the Mavericks out of a 54-43 halftime deficit. The Lakers will look to defend homecourt after an embarrassing loss on a national holiday, but injury questions will determine who plays for the Lakers Thursday night.

Let’s see how these teams matchup. I’ll give my analysis and a pick for TNT’s Mavericks vs. Lakers game.

Dallas Mavericks

The Mavericks suffered a surprisingly big blow to the roster when Dorian Finney-Smith went down with a right abductor strain on Dec. 19.

Finney-Smith is one of the Mavericks’ few wing defenders, and he’s often tasked with guarding the opposing teams’ best player. His absence has shown up in the defensive metrics.

Before his injury, the Mavericks had the 12th-best Adjusted Defensive Rating (112.4), according to Dunks and Threes. Since then, Dallas has dropped to 22nd (114.4). In that same stretch, the Mavericks offense has actually improved from ninth (114.3) to sixth (115.3) and they’ve shaded slightly to the over at 6-5.

Their covering woes have also continued without his defensive length and three-point shooting, especially on the road. Dallas has gone just 4-7 against the spread and is 1-5 on the road since Finney-Smith’s injury.

Maxi Kleber and Josh Green have also been missed by the Mavericks. Their best lineup, per Cleaning the Glass, has both Green and Kleber on the floor and has a +31.1 Net Rating, which is in the 98th percentile of all lineups in the NBA.

The only other Mavericks lineups with a positive differential that have played a minimum of 100 possessions, both contain Finney-Smith.

Los Angeles Lakers

Since these teams met on Christmas Day, the Lakers have turned things around. They’re 6-3 straight up and 6-2-1 against the spread.

The Lakers even enjoyed a five-game winning streak that came to an end Monday night against the Nuggets. LeBron James didn’t play in Denver — the Lakers third game in four nights — after playing both sets of a back-to-back prior. He’s listed as probable against the Mavericks.

Regardless of if James plays, the Lakers will look to capitalize on the Mavericks’ lack of interior defense, something they weren’t able to do in their Christmas Day loss.

The Lakers took just 34.1% of their shots at the rim in that game, down from their regular season Rim Rate of 39.1% (first in the league). Instead, they opted to shoot mostly from long midrange, a much less efficient spot. Although they connected on a respectable 53.5% from that area, it wasn’t enough to compete with the Mavericks’ barrage of three-pointers, many of which came in that 51-point third quarter.

The emergence of Thomas Bryant is also something that should help the Lakers, even if they aren’t fully healthy. Bryant has been a monster since that Christmas Day game. He leads the Lakers in Points Per Shot Attempt by a wide margin at 144.7, which is in the 95th percentile according to Cleaning the Glass.

He only played 19 minutes on Christmas, but since then, he's averaged the third-most minutes per game of any Laker (29.1), behind only James (35.5) and Dennis Schroeder (34.1).

Mavericks-Lakers Pick

The Lakers positive play should continue and I expect them to cover the spread, but they're a dominant first half team, while the Mavericks struggle to start games.

Los Angles led by nine points at halftime in the Christmas Day meeting — something its been doing all season. The Lakers have a 26-15 record against the spread in the first half, and it gets even better at home (13-5).

Meanwhile, the Mavericks have the third-worst road record in the first half at 5-13, due to their porous defense. Since Finney-Smith's injury, the Mavericks first-half road Defensive Rating is third-worst in the league (127.3) per NBA Advanced Stats.

If James and Russell Westbrook play, my model has the Lakers heavily favored in the first half. With the trends supporting that number and the revenge factor from an embarrassing loss on Christmas, I like the Lakers in the first half for 1.5 units at anything with plus points.

If they somehow switch to being favored, I still like the Lakers at one unit. I'll also take the Lakers 1H moneyline for a half unit at anything plus-money.

Pick: Lakers 1H +1.5 (odds) Lakers 1H ML

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