NBA Picks: Bet Mavericks +9 In Low-Scoring Game 3 Against Thunder

Tuesday, April 19, 2016 8:51 PM GMT

I've missed on the side in both games of the Dallas-Oklahoma City first-round series but have hit on the 'under' total in each. The series shifts to Big D for Game 3 on Thursday night. The Thunder are -9 on Pinnacle's NBA odds with a total of 195.5.

Mavericks Show They Are Here To 'Fight'
A big reason why I liked giving Dallas 13.5 points in Game 2 was because the Mavericks were expected to be without starting guards Deron Williams and J.J. Barea due to injuries suffered in the Game 1 blowout loss in OKC. Williams gutted through a sports hernia issue for 26 minutes in Game 2 and had 13 points and five assists. Barea missed the game, but that turned out to be a great thing for the Mavs.

That's because his replacement, Raymond Felton, had one of the games of his life with 21 points, 11 rebounds and three assists in the 85-84 upset. The only thing Felton did wrong was miss two free throws in the final seconds. That gave the Thunder a chance to win and they appeared to score on a Steven Adams putback as time expired but officials waived it off on replay. And it was the right call, albeit barely.

How could Dallas lose by 38 points and then turn around and win two nights later? Good question. The Mavericks were still dominated on the glass and shot just 42.7 percent overall and 5-for-19 from 3-point range. They even missed nine of 19 free throws. Dirk Nowitzki was just OK, shooting 7-for-19 for 17 points. But these are the NBA playoffs, where the unpredictable can happen. Dallas definitely turned up the defensive intensity. The Mavericks are the fourth team in NBA history to win Game 2 of a series after losing Game 1 by at least 35 points.

Nowitzki apparently suffered a bone bruise in the game and is listed as day-to-day, but there's no way he doesn't go in Game 3. Williams hopes he can play again after sitting out Monday from the middle of the third quarter on. Barea (right groin muscle) has made some improvement and might go. Forward David Lee (right heel) hasn't played yet in the series and remains questionable.

Dallas is now +1500 on NBA odds to win the series.

Durant Had Historically Bad Game
There's no question that Kevin Durant is one of the five best basketball players on earth and he may well go down as an all-time great. But it was largely his fault the Thunder lost Game 2. Durant was a terrible 7-for-33 from the field, tying Michael Jordan's record for the most misses in a playoff game in league history. Jordan went 9-of-35 in a loss to the Heat in 1997. Durant's final miss was a layup in traffic as time was running out. Durant had more turnovers (seven) than field goals (six). His previous postseason low field-goal percentage was 21.7 in the first round against the Lakers in 2010.

You have to give some credit to the Dallas defense, especially Wesley Matthews, as the Mavericks played very physically against Durant all night and he was clearly frustrated by it -- Durant got to the foul line just five times. Russell Westbrook was also off in Game 2, shooting 8-for-22 for 19 points. Durant and Westbrook combined to shoot 1-for-12 in the final six minutes of the game, during which the Mavericks outscored the Thunder 14-6. Oklahoma City shot only 33.7 percent overall and 7-for-32 from long range. Guys like Serge Ibaka, Dion Waiters and Enes Kanter were all quiet as their superstar teammates struggled.

But then OKC blowing a lead is nothing new. They had lost an NBA-high 14 games when they had taken a lead into the fourth quarter during the regular season.

The Thunder are -3000 on NBA picks to still win this series (they will).

I have to say, this spread shocks me. Do I think OKC wins Game 3? Probably. Durant almost never has two terrible games in a row. But giving 9 points? No way. Take the Mavs and stay with the 'under.' Dallas was 23-18 ATS at home during the season. The 'under' hit in 22 of 41 games. OKC was just 17-24 ATS on the road in the regular season.

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NBA Pick: Mavericks +9
Best Line Offered: at Bookmaker