Are the Mavs a Good Underdog Pick Against Visiting Spurs?

Jason Lake

Tuesday, November 14, 2017 12:49 PM UTC

Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017 12:49 PM UTC

The Dallas Mavericks have the worst SU and ATS records in basketball. But could they be the right NBA pick this Tuesday night when they host the San Antonio Spurs?

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Free NBA Pick: Mavericks +6 (+102)
Best Line Offered: at Pinnacle

Something is clearly not right with the Dallas Mavericks. They’re at the bottom of the NBA standings at 2-12, with the worst ATS record in the league at 3-11. The Mavs haven’t played this poorly since the early ‘90s. Now we know why they abstained from voting on reform measures to the Draft Lottery.

But could the Mavericks still be worth picking up this Tuesday (8:30 p.m. ET) when they host the San Antonio Spurs? It might seem like folly, but the Spurs aren’t exactly tearing up the marketplace at 8-5 SU and 7-6 ATS, and the Mavs have opened as 6-point home dogs on the NBA odds board. That may indeed be a tad too generous. Let’s dig deep, peel back the layers, and see if this is one of those classic “buy low” opportunities.

 Still Better than the Suns

Dallas may have the worst record in the NBA, but they’re not the worst team – not according to the Simple Rating System at Basketball Reference. They have the Mavs at –7.28 SRS, ahead of four other clubs; if you’re keeping score at home, the Phoenix Suns are in last place at –9.95 SRS.

That’s pretty much how the Mavericks shake out according to points per possession, as well. They’re No. 26 overall on offense (99.6 per 100) and No. 28 on defense (109.1 per 100). Definitely not good, but hardly earth-shattering. Their demise is largely twofold: Dirk Nowitzki (minus-3.9 BPM) is getting regular minutes at the end of his storied career, and 19-year-old rookie Dennis Smith Jr. (minus-2.8 BPM) is their starting point guard.

Anyone for Dennis?

Smith does appear to be putting things together, though. He had his best game thus far on Saturday against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, and the Mavs nearly won straight-up before collapsing at the end and falling 111-104 as 6-point home dogs. James was clearly impressed.

But are the computers? FiveThirtyEight projects San Antonio as a 3.5-point favorite using their CARM-Elo formula, and the Spurs might be even more short-handed than usual, with SG Danny Green (minus-0.1 BPM) listed as day-to-day with a hamstring injury. Green might play Tuesday, or Bryn Forbes (minus-1.4 BPM) might have to soak up those minutes. That’s enough extra sauce for us to recommend the Mavs for your NBA picks – if you’ve got the intestinal fortitude.

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