The Dallas Mavericks are back in full flight, but the NBA odds for Tuesday’s matchup with the Houston Rockets might make the OVER too tough to swallow. The Spurs-Clippers total looks a lot more attainable.
Jason’s record as of Apr. 27: 74-74-5 ATS, 11-16 Totals, plus-0.15 units ML
Ah, playoff basketball. Sweet, sweet playoff basketball, the way nature intended. Defenses tighten up, the top players get more minutes, and every once in a while, a hockey game breaks out. The UNDER is 16-13 in first-round action as we go to press, and that’ll be our default basketball pick moving forward. It’ll take an unusual situation for us to change our position.
What’s that? The Dallas Mavericks have punted on the Rajon Rondo Experiment? Well, that qualifies as unusual, although it’s a smart move from a basketball sense. The OVER cruised to the pay window in the last two games Dallas played sans Rondo against the Houston Rockets. Shall we keep plucking that chicken?
Dallas Mavericks vs. Houston Rockets (8:00 p.m. ET, TNT)
It won’t be easy. As we go to press, the NBA odds at Wagerweb have driven the total for Tuesday’s Game 5 all the way up to 222 points. That’s the biggest total either the Mavericks (UNDER 44-41-1) or the Rockets (EVEN 43-43) have seen all season. But if we leave that aside for a moment, it’s easy to see how the absence of Rondo (12.4 PER) has helped drive up the final score.
Although Rondo was a poor fit in Dallas, and sadly ineffective at the offensive end (minus-1.5 OBPM), he was still a positive contributor on defense (plus-0.5 DBPM). In his place goes J.J. Barea (15.1 PER), Rondo’s mirror image at point guard. Barea had a plus-1.0 OBPM for the Mavs during the regular season, but plays matador defense (minus-2.5 DBPM) and is more ideally suited for coming off the bench.
Having said that, replacing injured SF Chandler Parsons (plus-2.7 OBPM, minus-0.2 DBPM) with Al-Farouq Aminu (minus-0.5 OBPM, plus-2.9 DBPM) should have the opposite effect. Aminu ended up contributing 16 points on 6-of-10 shooting in Game 5, helping Dallas to a 121-109 victory (OVER 218.5). We’re going to pin the regression tail on Aminu and take the UNDER against this inflated total with your NBA picks.
Free NBA Pick: Take the UNDER
San Antonio Spurs vs. L.A. Clippers (10:30 p.m. ET, TNT)
There’s only been one truly close matchup in the first round, and here it is. The Spurs (UNDER 45-41) and the Clippers (UNDER 45-38-3 ATS) are tied at 2-2 SU and ATS, and they’ve split the totals down the middle at 2-2 thus far. But that comes with an asterisk: Game 2 needed overtime to go OVER 206.5, as the Spurs won 111-107. The two teams combined for 30 points in those extra five minutes.
We expect the Spurs to come out with some extra intensity on defense after they lost Game 4 in a mistake-filled 114-105 final (OVER 202.5). San Antonio was the No. 3-ranked team on the defensive efficiency charts during the regular season, allowing 99.6 points per 100 possessions. That focus wasn’t there in Sunday’s game; Chris Paul (26.0 PER) was allowed to score 34 points, including 10-of-10 from the free-throw line. And Austin Rivers (10.6 PER) added 16 points off the bench, shooting 7-of-8 from the field.
Assuming San Antonio answers the bell in Game 5, we’ve got things set up pretty nicely for another UNDER result. The total for this contest has been adjusted back up to as high as 205.5 points, although that’s already down from 206 points at the open. Our consensus reports at press time show 91 percent support for the UNDER at a total of 205 points, which suits us fine – as they say, early money is sharp money. There might still be an opportunity to grab the UNDER at a higher price closer to tip-off, after the public money comes in.
Free NBA Pick: Take the UNDER