NBA Odds & Picks for Pelicans vs. Mavericks: Back Dallas’ 3-Point Barrage
Glenn James/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Luka Doncic.
Editor’s note: This game has reportedly been postponed due to COVID-19 protocols. ESPN reports the Mavericks do not have eight players eligible to play.
Pelicans vs. Mavericks Odds
|Pelicans Odds||+4.5 [BET NOW]|
|Mavericks Odds||-4.5 [BET NOW]|
|Moneyline||+164 / -196 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||218.5 [BET NOW]|
|Time||8:30 p.m. ET|
|TV||NBA League Pass|
|Odds as of Monday at 12 a.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.|
An 0-3 slump has suddenly tarnished the Pelicans’ 4-2 record to start the season. After allowing 102 points per game and a 43% field goal percentage in their first six games, New Orleans allowed 115.7 points per game and a 47% field goal percentage during its losing streak. If they hope to right the ship, the Pelicans’ defense needs to improve their play.
On the other hand, the Mavericks roll into the matchup winners of three straight. After scoring 106.8 points per game on 31% from 3-point range prior to its winning run, Dallas caught fire scoring 116.3 per game on 44% from 3-point range en route to a trio of victories. Until the return of forward Kristaps Porzingis, hitting from deep will be a must for the Mavs to keep winning games.
The stage looks set for the hot Mavericks’ offense to keep rolling against the struggling Pelicans’ defense. Let’s see if it will be enough to beat the spread though.
New Orleans Pelicans
While they have lost their past three games, the Pelicans have made it close in each, losing by an average of 3.7 points per game. They’ve kept games close in this stretch because they’re averaging 112 points per game in those three contests.
The improved offensive play has been due to featuring second-year player Zion Williamson more. Williamson has 26.3 points per game on a 57% field goal percentage in his last three on 19.3 attempts.
Despite Zion’s scoring efficiency, the Pelicans’ offense still needs to improve its shooting efficiency. Ranking dead last with a 32% 3-point field goal percentage, New Orleans only has one game in which it made more 3-pointers than their opponent. Catching up or keeping pace with the better offenses in the NBA will be difficult with such inefficient shooting.
For that reason, NBA teams have looked to force the Pelicans into a shootout. They are allowing 44 3-point attempts per 100 possessions, the most in the NBA according to Basketball Reference. That number is five ahead of the Knicks at 39.
The player that New Orleans needs to step up is All-Star forward Brandon Ingram. At 42.1%, Ingram’s 3-point percentage led the team in their first six. Since then, the number fell to 22%.
Ingram continues to shoot it, though, as he still averages 6.0 attempts from deep per game. If the offense continues to attack through Williamson inside, Ingram’s outside will be crucial for success.
With a 106.3 fifth-ranked Defensive Rating, the Mavericks have relied on that end of the court as their bread and butter. These past three games showed just how good Dallas could be if its offense can take the next step. However, maintaining a 44% 3-point field goal percentage is not something to rely on.
One change that will bring sustainable improvement is the return of Kristaps Prozingis, who is listed as questionable for the first time this season, which is a positive step. The power forward brings a diverse skill set with the ability to score inside or outside. Given that Porzingis is yet to appear in a game this season, I expect the Mavericks to proceed with caution in how they deploy him whenever he’s ready to play.
If Porzingis can play, the timing would be perfect due to COVID-19 striking Dallas. Key role players Dorian Finney-Smith, Jalen Brunson, Josh Richards and Maxi Kleber have all been ruled due to safety protocols and may miss up to 14 days.
We witnessed the first version of the COVID-19-stricken team on Saturday in the Dallas’ beatdown of the Orlando Magic. Tim Hardaway Jr. and Trey Burke capitalized on the extra opportunity as they shot 23 of 33 from the field and a remarkable 15 of 21 from 3-point range.
While Hardaway and Burke carried the scoring load against the Magic, no one should forget about star Luka Doncic. Averaging 29.5 points, 12.8 rebounds, and 10.3 assists over his last four games, Doncic continues to do it all for Dallas.
Losing to the 3-ball has been the story for the Pelicans in recent games. Against the Mavericks, struggling to stop shots from deep spells trouble because Dallas ranks sixth in 3-point attempts per 100 possessions.
Looking to keep up with a long-range barrage will take more than the excellent interior play of Williamson. While Zion shows the ability to score efficiently, it’s difficult to get a lead when you count by two but your opponent counts by three.
While the Mavericks were hit by COVID-19, they showed an ability to overcome the missing players on Saturday. Against the Pelicans, Hardaway and Burke need to continue to shoot reliably. If they do, the floor will open for Doncic to either score or create for others as he has on their hot streak.
Back the Mavericks to win and cover the spread.
Pick: Mavericks -4.5 (to -5.5)