NBA Odds Have Mavs Laying -7 Over Pelicans

Jason Lake

Wednesday, February 26, 2014 1:03 PM GMT

The Dallas Mavericks have been winning games, but they’ve been tripping over the NBA lines the past couple of weeks. A matchup with the battered New Orleans Pelicans could change that.

Jason’s record on his early NBA picks for 2013-14, up to February 25 inclusive:

69-54-1 ATS

18-14 Totals

Be sure to read our NBA Picks of the Day article for more free plays

Dirk Nowitzki wasn’t having his greatest game Monday night, and his last shot of the game wasn’t restaurant-quality. But it was the killer blow in a 110-108 win over the New York Knicks. If you haven’t already seen the highlights, make sure to check it out on the Web – especially for the reactions of the crowd at Madison Square Garden, as the ball caromed up in the air off the front rim, and then straight down through the twine.

Sadly for Dallas supporters, the Knicks still beat the NBA betting lines as 2.5-point home dogs. That’s the second time in three games the Mavericks have won SU but not ATS; last Friday, they were up 118-98 on the Philadelphia 76ers (+13.5 at home) with under three minutes remaining before allowing the matador cover in a 124-112 final. That leaves the Mavs at 4-2 SU and 2-4 ATS as they prepare to host the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday. The early basketball odds have Dallas laying seven points with a total of 204.5.

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Sweating to the Oldies

Despite their failings at the NBA betting window, the Mavericks (35-23 SU, 32-26 ATS) have been playing very good basketball of late. They’ve won nine of their last 11 games to move into seventh place in the Western Conference standings as we go to press. At age 35, Nowitzki (24.6 PER) is having his best season since he turned 30. He’s not the only grizzled veteran on the Mavs, either:

Age 37: Vince Carter (17.3 points, 5.2 rebounds, 4.2 assists per 36 minutes; 16.0 PER)

Age 35: Shawn Marion (12.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, 1.9 assists/36; 13.9 PER)

Age 32: Sam Dalembert (11.6 points, 11.6 rebounds, 1.9 blocks/36; 16.2 PER)

Age 32: Jose Calderon (13.5 points, 5.6 assists, 1.1 steals/36; 15.4 PER)

Dalembert and Calderon may be fresh-faced in comparison to their elders, but they play the premium positions of center and point guard, respectively, and those positions will age you in dog years. Carter and Marion play in relative comfort on the wings. But their ability to contribute at this stage of their careers is remarkable. Carter has been especially valuable off the bench; he dumped 23 points on the Knicks in 26 minutes, hitting seven of his 12 trey attempts. Put that man in the Hall of Fame.

Head and Shoulders, Knees and Toes

It helps the old guys stay young when they don’t have to bust their collective hump every game. Between owner Mark Cuban’s money and GM Donnie Nelson’s expertise, the Mavs front office has put together a solid team around Nowitzki. DeJuan Blair (17.8 PER) is playing for the league minimum of less than $1 million; so is Devin Harris (17.3 PER), who has provided quality minutes backing up Calderon, although he remains a constant injury concern with his bum right knee. And his bad shoulder, and his ankle, and his surgically-repaired toe.

Harris is still healthier than a lot of the players on the Pelicans (23-33 SU, 24-28-4 ATS). I’ve gotten to write a lot about the Pellies lately, so I’ll spare you the laundry list of injuries. Suffice to say the Pelicans were on the short end of the stick again in Monday’s 123-110 defeat at the hands of the Los Angeles Clippers (–4.5 away). This was yet another poor defensive effort for New Orleans, who sits at No. 26 on the defensive efficiency charts (106.3 points allowed per 100 possessions) at press time. By the way, Jamal Crawford also went 7-of-12 from downtown on Monday. Hope you’ve got Carter on your fantasy team for Wednesday’s tilt (8:00 p.m. ET, ESPN).

NBA Pick: Take the Mavericks –7 (–107) at Pinnacle