Mavericks vs. Pelicans Odds, Picks, Predictions: Zion Will Dominate Inside (Saturday, March 27)
Jonathan Bachman/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Zion Williamson
- The Mavericks are either a short favorite or short underdog depending on the book for Saturday night's game against the Pelicans.
- Luka Doncic is questionable for Dallas, and it will need him to keep up with New Orleans' surging offense.
- Get our full Mavs vs. Pelicans pick and preview below.
Mavericks vs. Pelicans Odds
|Time||9 p.m. ET|
|TV||NBA League Pass|
|Odds as of Saturday morning and via BetMGM.|
The Mavericks and Pelicans both are playing in the second game of a back to back and the availability of a few key players is in question.
Will this lack of rest hurt these two teams or will their elite offenses continue to put up points? Let’s break it down.
Luka Doncic missed last night’s game against the Pacers and the Mavericks lost by double digits. He’s listed as questionable for tonight’s game and they are hopeful that he can play despite the back tightness. Our NBA Insiders tool gives him a 50% chance to play.
Doncic is critical to their offense, and he is +11.5 points per 100 possessions on the offensive side of the ball for the Mavericks. Additionally, Kristaps Porzingis is questionable (we give him a 50% chance to play), Willy Cauley-Stein is doubtful, and Tyrell Terry is doubtful.
The Mavericks’ defense has been questionable all year. They have the 25th ranked defensive efficiency and give up 114.3 points per 100 possessions, per Cleaning the Glass. They give up 3-point shots at a high frequency and then they allow opponents to shoot 65.2% at the rim. These opportunities are high percentage points for opponents.
Moreover, Porzingis has been a revolving door on defense. Opponents score 6 points more per 100 possessions when he’s on the floor and he looks nothing like the unicorn that the Mavericks thought he would be when he was acquired from the Knicks.
New Orleans Pelicans
The Pelicans missed Lonzo Ball last night and he’s once again doubtful with a strained hip flexor. When Lonzo misses games, the Pelicans feel his absence, but some other players have taken up the playmaking responsibility. Zion has averaged 3.4 assists per game this season, but his median total is higher and settles at 4. Over Zion’s last 11 games, he’s averaging 4 assists per game, but his median total is 5 assists, and he’s recorded 5 or more assists in 7 of these 11 games (63.3%).
Over the past two weeks, the Pelicans have the best offense in the NBA and they are scoring 121.7 points per 100 possessions, per Cleaning the Glass. Even though they are still giving up 114.0 points per 100, they’re simply outscoring all of their competition.
The Pelicans have the second-best eFG% over the last two weeks (second to Dallas) and it’s due to absolute domination at the rim. They are shooting 73.3% at the rim, and it’s in large part due to Zion’s development and control of the offense. The Pelicans are rolling, and their offense is the biggest reason why.
Much of this matchup ties into the availability of Doncic. He’s the engine that drives the Mavericks and without him it is tough for Dallas to keep up with this explosive Pelicans’ offense.
Also, don’t worry about the “tired legs” theory. Rest has been overrated. Per our data at Bet Labs, the over is 65-53-1 over the last three seasons when both teams are on a back-to-back. If Luka plays, the full game over is a play.
Either way, I like the Pelicans spread because Dallas does not have the interior presence to stop Zion, and I would bet it down to a PK. The sharps are with me and the Pelicans have already been hit by some sharp action.
Zion’s props are a play tonight, as well. He should shred the Mavericks’ interior and his combo prop of 33.5 Points and Assists is attainable.
Pick: Pelicans +2, and if Luka plays Over 229