NBA Odds & Picks for Mavericks vs. 76ers: If Porzingis Sits, the Under Hits (Thursday, Feb. 25)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images. Pictured: Kristaps Porzingis.
Mavericks vs. 76ers Odds
|Moneyline||+148 / -180|
|Time||7 p.m. ET|
Thursday’s early TNT matchup features the surging Dallas Mavericks as they visit the Wells Fargo Center to face the Eastern Conference-leading Philadelphia 76ers.
In the NBA’s shortened offseason, Dallas was a popular pick for a plethora of futures. Many loved the Mavs to go over their win total, win the Southwest Division and of course Luka Doncic was an early MVP favorite.
This unique season has done them no favors. Kristaps Porzingis wasn’t ready for the start of the season due to injury (questionable tonight), role players missed games with COVID-19 and their schedule was recently altered because of extreme winter weather in Texas. After all that, they’ve finally found their groove.
Philadelphia has played frontrunner in the East all season, and Thursday’s matchup begins a four-game home stand as it heads into the All-Star break.
Porzingis’ back injury is what I’m monitoring in this one. My pick hinges on his availability.
According to Action Labs, both Porzingis and Maxi Kleber are listed as questionable. If they both sit, I anticipate Dallas will use the five-man lineup of Doncic, Josh Richardson, Tim Hardaway Jr., Dorian Finney-Smith and Dwight Powell. This is Dallas’ second most common lineup based on total possessions, per Cleaning the Glass.
This lineup scores 92.3 points per 100 possessions, the fourth-worst mark of any lineup that has been on the floor together for more than 100 total possessions. Their effective field goal percentage of 44.8% is second-lowest for a lineup that has played that many possessions. However, it is an above average defensive lineup, allowing 109.5 points per 100 possessions.
It’s impossible to overstate how much Porzingis impacts the total based on his on-court vs. off-court differential. The Mavericks are 4.1-points better on offense when Porzingis is on the floor. On defense, he makes them 10.8-points worse. His efficiency differential is -6.7, but the more startling number is his on-court presence adds 14.9 points to the total per 100 possessions played, per Cleaning the Glass.
Throw in Dallas ranking 29th in Pace over their last five appearances and we may see a game where scoring doesn’t come easy.
The Sixers are 13-2 at home this season, and coming off two consecutive games against Toronto. Though they split, my eye caught the final totals in those games, which were 213 and 211, respectively. These lower totals mean more to me than usual when evaluating Philly’s next matchup.
This is because the Raptors are tied for ninth in the NBA in offensive rating at 112.7. Coincidentally, they’re tied with the Mavericks.
Thus far, the Sixers have stayed relatively healthy, and that continuity is paying off in their performance. Their lineup of Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, Danny Green, Tobias Harris and Joel Embiid has played 724 possessions together this season, the second-most common lineup in the league, per Cleaning the Glass.
This lineup excels in almost all aspects of the game. It has an efficiency differential of +17.2 and only allows 107.3 points per 100 possessions, per Cleaning the Glass.
What catches my eye is Philly’s second-most common lineup of Shake Milton, Matisse Thybulle, Furkan Korkmaz, Tobias Harris and Dwight Howard. The bench mob plus Harris has a similar efficiency differential to the starters at +16, and is especially strong on defense.
This lineup only allows 90.6 points per 100 possessions, fifth best of any lineup in the league with more than 100 possessions of floor time, per Cleaning the Glass.
Despite an occasional lapse, the Sixers have played stellar defense this season and I see that continuing on Thursday night.
I’m on the under in this one, but I’m only taking it if Porzingis does not play. The numbers clearly depict a diminished Dallas offense and improved defense when he is off the court.
Dallas plays slower than one would expect given its historically efficient offense in the 2019-20 season, and its defense ranks eighth in opponent points in the paint (45.5, NBA Advanced Stats). The available Mavericks bigs will need to be on their game to slow down Embiid.
Philadelphia has the ability to clamp down opponents, even when facing a superstar like Doncic because of how dynamic Simmons can be. The Sixers have the sixth-best defensive rating in the league (109.1, NBA Advanced Stats) and will not back away from this challenge at home.
Pick: Under (228), if Porzingis is ruled out.