Mavericks-Bulls: Neither Really Wants to Win, but No Ties in NBA

Matthew Jordan

Thursday, March 1, 2018 6:29 PM UTC

Thursday, Mar. 1, 2018 6:29 PM UTC

NBA basketball, it’s fantastic! In a race to the bottom, the Dallas Mavericks visit the Chicago Bulls on Friday night with both front offices hoping to lose.

Dallas (19-43, 32-29-1 ATS) at Chicago (20-41, 31-29-1 ATS)Free NBA Pick: BullsBest Line Offered: BetOnline

[/]{"component":"oddswidget", "eventId":3264823, "sportsbooksIds":[1096,93,169,238,118], "LineTypeId":1, "PeriodTypeId":1}[/]

There are 10 games in the NBA on Friday and all of them feature at least one team currently in the playoffs or nearly so. That is, all but the matchup between the Mavericks and Bulls in Chicago, which tips off at 8 p.m. ET. What, no national TV!?

Dallas has won its past four trips to the United Center, but the Bulls won in Big D on Jan. 5, 127-124 as 4-point NBA betting underdogs to end a four-game losing streak overall in the series. That was back in the stretch where the Bulls were playing pretty well because they hadn’t traded Nikola Mirotic yet. He had 11 points and 10 rebounds off the bench. Kris Dunn can’t shoot a lick but did that night with a career-high 32 points on 12-for-17 shooting. Justin Holiday added 23 points as the Bulls shot 56.4 percent and scored 47 points in the fourth quarter (most ever allowed by Dallas). Zach LaVine hadn’t yet made his season debut for Chicago. Wesley Matthews had 24 points and Harrison Barnes 23 for the Mavs, who shot 53.3 percent.

Six of the last seven meetings between Dallas and Chicago have been decided by 7 or fewer points. The Mavs are 4-1 ATS in the past five.

[/]{"component":"video", "type":"youtube", "url":"https://www.youtube.com/embed/2ppBsCe45_w", "videoSize":"Large" }[/]

Tanks A Lot!

If we are being completely honest, neither front office wants its team to win the rest of the season, much less this game. Shoot, Mavs owner Mark Cuban already has been fined $600K for admitting publicly that it’s better for his team’s future to tank.

It’s a race to the bottom in the NBA unlike we’ve ever seen, and one victory could be the difference between, say, picking fifth in the loaded 2018 NBA draft or eighth. Right now, the Mavs have the sixth-worst record in the NBA and the Bulls the eighth-worst. I’m not sure either club can be bad enough to outdo the likes of the Magic, Grizzlies, Kings, Hawks or Suns to get into the Top 5. ESPN’s BPI gives Chicago an expected draft position of 5.3 and Dallas 6.3.

I thought the Bulls might be slight opening favorites here; they have been nine times at home and are a solid 5-4 ATS, which is a Top-10 home cover percentage. Maybe this line swings by tipoff, but the Bulls will only be favored a few more times this season overall – and likely not once on the road because they haven’t been yet. I would speculate they will be favored next Wednesday vs. Memphis, possibly April 3 vs. the Hornets and April 7 vs. the Nets.

Chicago enters on a five-game losing streak (1-4 ATS), and management has benched veteran center Robin Lopez, a good player, simply to get a look at some young guys – or, you know, to ensure more losses. Lopez (12.3 ppg, 4.7 rpg) has taken it like a pro. Holiday (13.0 ppg, 4.5 rpg) also has gotten a DNP-CD in three of the past four games. The starting five these days is Dunn, LaVine, excellent rookie Lauri Markkanen, David Nwaba and Cristiano Felicio. Those latter two aren’t NBA starters.

[/]{"component": "embedHTML", "code": "

Hornets came away with the win, but @ZachLaVine posted 21 points, 4 rebounds, and 4 assists.

WATCH: pic.twitter.com/xICdC9hgb9

— Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls) February 28, 2018
\n\n"}[/]

Actually, there is one real basketball reason to watch this game: two potential All-Rookie first-teamers in Markkanen, the No. 7 overall pick last summer, and Dallas point guard Dennis Smith Jr., the No. 9 pick. Both would surely go in the Top 5 in any 2017 redraft along with Jayson Tatum (No. 3 overall), Donovan Mitchell (No. 13) and probably Kyle Kuzma (No. 27).

Smith Jr. had a chance to win Wednesday’s game against the Thunder but missed a jumper at the overtime buzzer as Dallas lost 111-110. Dwight Powell had forced OT with a follow shot at the regulation buzzer. The Mavs might be a bit spent from that game, plus not thrilled that a stretch of seven games at home is broken up by this one-game trip. Dallas has covered just three of its past 11 road games vs. teams with a losing home record and is 1-3 ATS as a road favorite this season. Take Chicago for Friday’s NBA pick.

comment here