Mavericks vs. Grizzlies NBA Odds & Picks: Bet Dončić & Dallas to Cover (Tuesday, May 11)
Glenn James/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Dallas Mavericks star Luka Dončić.
- Luka Dončić and the Dallas Mavericks head to Tennessee to face the Memphis Grizzlies on Tuesday's NBA slate.
- The visiting Mavericks are slight favorites against the Grizzlies, which has made this a tough game to handicap.
- Brandon Anderson explains below why likes Dallas to cover the number and triumph.
Mavericks vs. Grizzlies Odds
|Moneyline||-125 / +105|
|Time||8 p.m. ET|
|TV||NBA League Pass|
|Odds as of Tuesday morning via BetMGM.|
There’s very little chance of the Memphis Grizzlies and Dallas Mavericks meeting up in this year’s NBA playoffs, barring a pair of miraculously long runs, but this one should have a playoff feel to it either way.
The Grizzlies fought back in the fourth quarter Monday against the New Orleans Pelicans to stave off defeat. That was a big win, and Memphis looks set for the play-in tournament, but they’re still trying to move up to the No. 8 seed since that would give it two chances to win once to get into the playoffs.
Unfortunately, the Grizzlies didn’t close any ground on current No. 8 seed Golden State after it shocked Utah.
The Mavericks are in a fight of their own. Dallas is trying to hang onto the No. 5 seed ahead of Portland and the Los Angeles Lakers, especially since it looks more and more likely that would mean a winnable first-round matchup against the Denver Nuggets.
Neither team is in do-or-die mode here, but both would badly like a win. This will feel like a playoff tuneup, and two of the league’s brightest stars take center stage in Luka Dončić and Ja Morant. So, which star will shine brighter?
The Mavericks are 40-28 on the season, just five games ahead of the Grizzlies. However, a closer look shows quite a gulf between the teams. Memphis has been floating around average all season, but not so for Dallas. The Mavericks started the season 8-13, but have been a sparkling 32-15 since February 3. That’s a 56-win rate over a typical 82 game season, and that’s really good.
The Mavs have been even better lately — winning 10 of their last 12 — and Dallas is up to eighth in overall Net Rating, per Basketball Reference. The Mavericks are really good, and they’re hiding in plain sight. They’re a serious threat to win in the playoffs.
Of course, that’s largely thanks to Dončić, who is quietly building a back-of-the-ballot MVP case with another outstanding season. He’s averaging 28.2 points, 8.0 rebounds and 8.7 assists as one of the league’s finest offensive players, and he’s doing that all at just age 22. Dončić will be the best player on the court in this game by a pretty wide margin.
Kristaps Porzingis is supposed to be the second star, but his health continues to come and go, so he’ll watch this one from the sidelines. Maxi Kleber may be out again as well. That could leave Dallas shorthanded in the interior, which could be a problem against Jonas Valanciunas.
So what do the Mavericks do well besides having Dončić? They play smart basketball under head coach Rick Carlisle. Dallas almost never turns it over — just 12.1 times per game — which is third fewest in the NBA.
The Mavericks also have a sparkling offensive profile. They rank near the top of the league in 3-point attempts, even if they only make them at around a league average rate. Plus, they’re lethal inside the arc, ranking second in the NBA in 2-point percentage.
Some of that is Dončić; some is Carlisle and the coaching staff; and, a lot of it’s the combination of both. Whatever the math is, it’s pretty lethal.
The Mavericks aren’t the only team in this game being helped by superb coaching. Taylor Jenkins has quietly done an outstanding job again for Memphis. With all due respect to Morant, the Grizzlies haven’t had any players play like all-stars this season, and they’re still right in the playoff mix.
And Memphis is doing it because it’s winning the possession battle. The team isn’t great on offense. It’s better on defense, but not great on that end either. On a possession-to-possession basis, the Grizzlies are average. The difference most games is that Memphis just gets lots of extra possessions. They do so by dominating the turnover margin and the rebounding battle.
Memphis ranks top 6 in both offensive rebounding and fewest turnovers per game on one end, and it’s top 8 on defense in those areas, forcing a high number of turnovers with its ball pressure and dominating the defensive glass. More rebounds mean more possessions, and the turnovers help as well.
The Grizzlies aren’t winning with quality; they’re winning with quantity. If you can’t always be better than the opponent, maybe you can outsmart them instead by gaining extra opportunities.
Outside of those two advantages, Memphis has been mostly fine, which is how you end up 35-33 as the season winds down. The Grizzlies don’t have a strong shot profile. They rank near the bottom of the league in 3-point attempts, but aren’t good inside the arc and rarely get to the line.
The defensive profile is better, but still mostly just average outside of the big rebounding and turnover advantages. If a good opponent takes care of the ball, the Grizzlies are outmatched.
And that’s despite the team getting healthier. Jaren Jackson Jr. has returned, but the Grizzlies are just 3-6 when he plays. They’re 3-0 in games without him. Jackson opens up the offense with his shooting, but his defense doesn’t measure up. Then again, Jackson has yet to play a back-to-back set and just played Monday, so he might sit this one out.
Morant has struggled through his sophomore season. His 3-point shooting has disappeared at just 1.1 make per game on 30% behind the arc, and he’s down to 54% True Shooting on the year. Instead, the Grizzlies do it with depth and nine different players averaging nine PPG or better.
And mostly, they do it with coaching and by winning the rebounding and turnover battles.
The big problem for Memphis this game is that Dallas is well built to offset those its strengths. The Mavericks are very careful with the ball and don’t even really try to force many turnovers, so both sides of that turnover strength by Memphis end up somewhat wasted. The Grizzlies should still win the rebounding battle, but Dallas is around league average on that end.
Put another way, Jenkins has this team doing little things to give them a built-in advantage against many teams each night, but Dallas is not one of those teams. And when you just match possession for possession, the Mavericks look the much better team, especially as they get stronger down the stretch while the Grizzlies struggle to fit Jackson back into their lineup.
I trust the stronger team with the better matchup. A win here will go a long way toward locking up the Mavericks as the No. 5 seed. I’ll take Dallas to win and cover the 1.5-point spread, plus I’ll play it to -3 as well.
Pick: Mavericks -1.5