NBA Betting Odds & Picks: Our Staff’s Best Bets for Lakers vs. Mavericks on Thursday (April 22)
Glenn James/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Anthony Davis #3 of the Los Angeles Lakers and Luka Doncic #77 of the Dallas Mavericks.
- Three Action Network analysts. One big NBA showdown.
- Anthony Davis is set to return to the Los Angeles Lakers' lineup for Thursday's game against the Dallas Mavericks.
- Check out our crew's best bets for this intriguing game below.
Everything points to the return of Anthony Davis to the Los Angeles Lakers’ lineup for Thursday’s important NBA showdown with the Dallas Mavericks, which airs live in primetime on TNT and highlights the six-game schedule.
Davis getting back on the floor should give a much-needed boost to a team that’s gone 5-5 in its last 10 games. Most recently, Los Angeles suffered a 111-97 defeat at the hands of the Utah Jazz on Monday at Staples Center.
On the other side, the Mavericks are coming off a 127-117 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday at American Airlines Center. Luka Dončić just missed a triple-double, going for a game-high 30 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists in the triumph.
Our Action Network analysts are loving this juicy affair, with all three picks coming in this intriguing showdown. Two of handicappers are backing the underdog Lakers, with the third siding with the Mavericks. Check out their detailed thoughts and selections below.
NBA Odds & Picks
Lakers vs. Mavericks
Brandon Anderson: These teams start a two-game duplex series, and it’s one the Mavericks have surely had circled on their calendars for weeks.
Dallas dug itself a huge hole to start the season, but it has been much closer to the top-five teams in the West than everyone else since the start of February. Dallas is finally just a half game back of the No. 6 seed Portland, and that ranking is actuallyhuge this year since it means avoiding the play-in game.
The Mavericks are also only 3.5 games behind the Lakers. Although that margin would usually be pretty sizable this time of the year, it means Dallas could sweep these games while LeBron James watches from the sideline and suddenly be within shouting distance of the No. 5 seed.
That would mean skipping out on the play-in entirely and getting Denver in the first round, a far better alternative than anything else in the West. Suffice it to say, Dallas has plenty of motivation to pull out all the stops in this showdown.
James won’t be playing, but it looks like Davis will. We talked on the NBA Buffet podcast Wednesday here at Action Network about how to play the Lakers once Davis returned, and I said I would be fading them. We’ve seen what a team looks like with Davis and a bunch of role players — that team was barely even a playoff squad for years in New Orleans.
Davis has played three games without James, which all came last season. One was a win against the then-worst-in-the-league Golden State Warriors. The others were losses to Denver and Houston by a combined 40 points. Woof.
Davis is an elite, second-choice superstar, but hasn’t been consistently overwhelming or impressive as the lead option. It’s just not how his game is built. I also expect Davis to be brought along extremely cautiously and slowly as he ramps up his minutes coming off the injury.
Dončić, not Davis, will be the best player on the court in this game. The Dallas star is enough of a magician to help this offense score, even against a good Lakers defense, and I don’t trust Los Angeles to find enough scoring, Davis or not. If anything, it could be a struggle re-learning how to play through Davis.
I trust the Mavericks to find a way in a game they really need to have, and I’m grateful that Davis’ return has shortened the line here and made this playable.
Lakers vs. Mavericks
Kenny Ducey: There’s an unquantifiable element to Davis’return, which is the energy, excitement and hope he will bring to a Lakers team that’s been slipping in the West standings. Then, there’s the quantifiable. Davis is making the Lakers 9.1 points better per 100 possessions when he’s on the floor.
Los Angeles has actually ranked second with a 105.8 defensive rating since the All-Star break, so the fact Davis adds 0.9 points on that end is simply gravy, but the 8.2 points he adds on offense per 100 possession couldn’t come at a better time for a bottom-five scoring unit over that same span.
I’m not expecting Davis to play 38 minutes, but even if he gives the Lakers 25-30 minutes, that in chorus with the emotional lift of getting one of its stars back, should be enough to lift the Lakers to a win or at least get them close.
Dallas’ defense had entered the home stretch looking strong, but it has really wilted as of late. I’m always inclined to take the better defense when the spread is this tight, but I’m particularly inclined to take it in this case, considering it’s actually going to be getting even better and should be able to back things up on offense.
I think the Lakers can win this game outright, so I’m loving the idea of getting 3.5 points. I’d bet it down to a Pick’em on this play.
Lakers vs. Mavericks
Raheem Palmer: I don’t usually like to play on teams during the first game in which a star player is returning from an injury, but every individual game is different.
Surprisingly, the Lakers have managed to maintain a top-tier defense even without David and James, as it’s first in Defensive Rating, allowing opposing teams to score 106.9 points per 100 possessions in their non-garbage time minutes, according to Cleaning the Glass.
Not only should the Lakers improve defensively with the return of Davis, but they should improve substantially on offense where they’re scoring just 105.1 points per 100 possessions since James went down in their March 20 loss to Atlanta Hawks.
Davis was averaging 22.5 points, 8.4 rebounds and 3.0 assists in just 32.8 minutes of action, but the on/off numbers shows his superstar level impact. The Lakers were scoring 116.7 points per 100 possessions with him on the floor, versus 109 with him off the floor for a +7.7 differential.
For a Lakers team taking the fifth-highest frequency of shots at the rim (37.3%), the Mavericks represent an ideal matchup. Davis has the fortune of facing an opponent just 19th in opponent field-goal percentage at the rim (64.6%), so he should have no problem scoring as he’s in the 90th percentile, shooting 77% at the rim this season.
Despite the presence of Doncic, Dallas has been pretty disappointing this season. The Mavericks struggle to defend as they did last season However, the offense has dropped off from last season as well.
The Mavericks are just 11th in Offensive Rating (114.8) in their non-garbage time minutes, but over the past two weeks they’re just 17th (113.7) overall. The Mavericks are taking the fourth-highest frequency of 3-point field goals (41.4%), but they’re 18th in 3-point shooting percentage (36.3%) so far. They’ll face a Lakers team, which is top 10 in defending every single area of the floor.
Overall, I think 3.5 points is too many for the Mavericks to lay against the Lakers with Davis back in the lineup. I make this number as Dallas at -1.5, so at +3.5 I’m making Los Angeles my top pick.