Mavericks vs. Bulls Odds & Picks: Back Dallas if Doncic Suits Up
Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Luka Doncic.
- The Bulls' two wins this season have come against the Wizards, something they hope changes on Sunday night.
- The status of Luka Doncic is up in the air for the Mavericks, which impacts how Brandon Anderson wants to bet this game.
- Anderson breaks down how he'd bet the game with and without the Mavs' European star.
Mavericks vs. Bulls Odds
|Mavericks Odds||-5 [BET NOW]|
|Bulls Odds||+5 [BET NOW]|
|Moneyline||-210 / +176 [BET NOW]|
|Time||8 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Saturday at 9:30 p.m. ET and via FanDuel. Get up to a $1,000 risk-free bet at FanDuel today or see more offers and reviews for the best online sportsbooks.|
The Bulls and Mavericks meet Sunday evening with each team trying to right the ship after a disappointing start to the season.
Dallas is 2-3 but coming off a nice week that saw it shellack the Clippers last Sunday before adding another dominant win over the Heat. There was a 19-point loss to the Hornets in between those victories.
Chicago (2-4) might be even worse off if it hadn’t been lucky enough to get an early doubleheader against Washington. The Bulls swept those two games but have lost three of their other four games by at least 19 points.
Two inconsistent teams look to get on the right track. Which will get its third win?
The key watch for this game will be Luka Doncic, who is questionable with a quad injury. We’ll assume he is playing for now because the books also seem to think he’ll play, listing Dallas as moderate favorites. The Mavs are also still missing Kristaps Porzingis.
Dallas made some big changes this offseason with mixed success so far. Seth Curry and Delon Wright have been replaced in the rotation by Josh Richardson, James Johnson and a slew of long wings with defensive potential as the Mavs look to surround Doncic with defenders.
So far, Dallas has seen much more success on defense than on offense. The defense is forcing a ton of turnovers and rates in the top third of the lead as of Saturday, though they have benefited from some 3-point luck.
The offense has not taken shape yet, in part because Doncic has not lived up to his MVP billing thus far. Doncic is averaging 24.4 points, 7.6 rebounds and 6.4 assists through five games. That’s certainly not bad, but below expectations for the young superstar.
Doncic has been ice cold from beyond the arc, hitting an ugly 5 of 31 (16.1%) so far this season. That will regress to the mean at some point, but betting on that to happen while he’s barely healthy enough to play may not be a smart idea.
Dallas has built its entire team around Doncic and Porzingis, and there’s just not much other skill or creativity offensively outside of those two. So with Porzingis out and Doncic short of his usual stud status, that’s a pretty good explanation for the slow Mavericks start.
When the role players’ shots fall, Dallas can look great, like when it crushed the Clippers last week. When they don’t, the team can flounder.
Eventually, the Mavs are going to need a healthy Luka and Kristaps out there.
Chicago beat the Wizards twice by eight and three points, eking out wins against a team that was winless at that point. The Bulls also lost on a buzzer beater against the Warriors, but it’s not like Golden State has looked particularly good so far. Chicago got blown out by the Hawks, Pacers and Bucks.
Through five games, the Bulls have been bad on offense and even worse on defense. The offense entered play on Saturday ranked in the bottom five in turnover rate, while the defense is worst in the league in foul rate. That’s a bad formula that leads to a lot of easy points for the opponent, and a Rick Carlisle team is smart enough to take advantage of that.
The Bulls also have one of the league’s worst shot profiles defensively. Simply put, they are giving opponents too many easy looks in too many key spots on the floor, and that’s not a new problem for this team.
Chicago has a lot of young talent, but the pieces have not started to come together yet. Coby White has struggled to start his sophomore season, and he and Zach LaVine have been bad, as usual, on defense, leaving far too much work for Wendell Carter Jr. or anyone else to clean up.
This team lacks talent but also needs more coaching up from Billy Donovan. The Bulls look young and inexperienced and unless you think the Warriors are good, they’ve been blown out by the three toughest opponents.
The pace differential here could be interesting. Dallas has been one of the league’s slowest teams, while Chicago is the fastest entering Saturday. The Bulls know they can’t really defend anyway, so they’re just trying to get up and down to run up the score.
I think that could be a problem in a game against a Mavericks team with long, aggressive defenders. With Chicago’s propensity to turn the ball over and Dallas’s ability to grab them, I see a lot of easy points for the Mavs.
If Doncic plays, I like Dallas to cover the -5 and pull away for a relatively easy win, and I’d play the Mavs to -6.
If Doncic is a scratch, that makes this more of a toss-up for me and probably a stay away, simply because it’s too hard to know what to expect from Dallas. I would expect the line to swing significantly without Doncic, but I’m still not sure I trust Chicago to win, even in that scenario.
The Mavs should get easy points against the Bulls, and with Chicago’s spotty defense, they may start to find its shooting stroke too. If Luka suits up, he and Dallas should take care of the Bulls.
Pick: Dallas -5 (if Doncic plays)