NBA Picks for Mavs vs. Pacers to go Under

Jason Lake

Wednesday, February 12, 2014 1:02 PM GMT

The Indiana Pacers have had some trouble beating the NBA lines lately, but on Wednesday, they get to play a tired Dallas Mavericks team led by a gimpy Dirk Nowitzki.

Jason’s record on his early NBA picks for 2013-14, up to February 10 inclusive:

62-49-1 ATS

16-13 Totals

Once again, I have outsmarted myself. I picked the Indiana Pacers in last week’s matchup with the Portland Trail Blazers, even though Indiana was 3-5 ATS in its past eight games. I figured the Blazers were even colder against the NBA betting lines, but they were ahead for most of this contest before fading late and allowing the Pacers to win 118-113 in overtime. Portland still cashed in as a 6-point road dog.

The Pacers followed that up with a one-point loss to the tanking Orlando Magic (+8 at home) on Sunday before destroying the injured Denver Nuggets (+10.5 away) by 39 points on Monday. That still leaves Indiana at 7-4 SU and 4-7 ATS during this late-winter lull. But the Pacers might be worth a look in Wednesday’s contest against the Dallas Mavericks, who are getting 8.5 points at the Fieldhouse with a total of 197 points on the NBA odds board.

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Dirk Entries

The Mavericks were in very good shape going into Tuesday’s game in Charlotte, having won their last five in a row at 4-1 ATS. Then they fell behind the Bobcats early, and things got worse when Dirk Nowitzki (24.5 PER) sprained his ankle during the second quarter. Nowitzki would return in the second half, but he wasn’t moving around all that well, and the Mavs ended up losing 114-89 as 4-point road faves.  

The fact that Nowitzki was able to play through his injury is obviously great news for Dallas fans. But it’s not so great from a basketball betting perspective. The Mavericks (31-22 SU, 30-23 ATS) are the second-oldest team in the league at an average of 30.4 years – tied with the ancient Brooklyn Nets – and they’re 1-3 SU and 0-4 ATS in their last four games playing on zero days of rest. Now their MVP is less than 100 percent. Not good.

At least the relative blowout meant that nobody on the Mavericks had to do much work Tuesday – not that they were playing with much effort to begin with. Monta Ellis (17.6 PER) led the Mavs with 32 minutes; Nowitzki played just 24 minutes. This was a very flat performance from a team that already ranks just No. 23 overall in defensive efficiency at 105.5 points allowed per 100 possessions.

The New Spurs

No doubt head coach Rick Carlisle will have a few choice words for the Mavs as they prepare to play his former employers. The Pacers (40-11 SU, 32-19 ATS) have by far the best defense in the NBA at 93.8 points allowed per 100 possessions. That’s better than any team has performed since 1979-80. Better than the 2003-04 San Antonio Spurs (94.1 points allowed/100). Better than the 1998-99 Spurs (95.0). The UNDER, by the way, is 29-21-1 for the Pacers this year and 17-10 at the Fieldhouse. Oooh, foreshadowing.

The Pacers also have Lance Stephenson (15.9 PER) back in the lineup after he missed the Portland game with a sore back. I thought the Pacers would have more betting value without Stephenson, but the NBA lines didn’t budge an inch after his status was announced. Apparently nobody pays attention to these things. Then again, nobody really pays any attention to the Pacers. They’re the new San Antonio Spurs.

I’m still not pleased with how Indiana’s been doing against the spread recently, so even though the Mavericks are vulnerable, I’m going to recommend the UNDER in this situation. Nowitzki’s been having a great season for Dallas, but that ankle’s going to be a problem Wednesday night (7:00 p.m. ET). Maybe they’ll even give him the night off. Stay tuned.

NBA Pick: Take UNDER 197.5 (–105) at Pinnacle