The New Orleans Pelicans might be on the most unlikely five-game winning streak of any NBA team this season as they battle Oklahoma City for the West's final playoff spot. New Orleans is an 8.5-point underdog on BetOnline NBA odds Monday in Dallas.
I say that New Orleans (32-27) is on an unlikely winning streak because the team is doing it without three of its best players in Anthony Davis (one of the five-best players in the NBA), Jrue Holiday and Ryan Anderson. It seems that Davis is the closest to returning as he has a sprained right shoulder. It won't be in this game, however. He's averaging 23.9 points and 10.3 rebounds per game and leads the NBA with a player efficiency rating of 31.2. Anderson has a sprained MCL. He's averaging 14.6 points and 5.1 rebounds. Holiday is the furthest away with a leg injury. He averages 15.2 points and 7.1 assists.
So guys who wouldn't normally play a lot have really stepped up. Center Alexis Ajinca is averaging 13.6 points and 6.0 rebounds during the winning streak. Quincy Pondexter, acquired from Memphis earlier this season, is putting up 11.6 points a night during the run. New Orleans also has allowed just one team during the streak to reach 100 points. The Pelicans enter Monday a half game behind Oklahoma City for the West's final playoff spot. With Russell Westbrook now joining Kevin Durant on the injured list, the Pelicans may actually have a chance to steal that spot from OKC. The Thunder and Pelicans don't play again this season.
New Orleans is 35-24 against the NBA betting spread this season and 32-27 'over/under.'
Mavs Also Beaten Up
Dallas (39-22) is currently the No. 6 seed in the West and has followed a three-game winning streak with consecutive double-digit losses. The Mavs fell 104-87 in Atlanta on Wednesday and 104-94 at home to Brooklyn on Saturday. Rajon Rondo was suspended for that Hawks game after a bit of a run-in with Coach Rick Carlisle. He was back against the Nets and had eight points, seven rebounds and six assists. He doesn't seem a fit for the Mavs, and I'd be surprised if he re-signs as a free agent this offseason.
The Mavericks have played their past two games without center Tyson Chandler, the team's anchor on defense, and four in a row without small forward Chandler Parsons. Both are questionable for this game. The team's official game notes list Chandler as a starter but not Parsons. Richard Jefferson would start again for Parsons if that's the case. The Mavericks (39-22) have averaged 93.0 points without Parsons, 13.1 fewer than in their first 57 games. They haven't reached triple digits in those four games, the team's longest streak this season without reaching 100. Dallas ranks fourth in the NBA in scoring at 105.3 points per game.
The Mavericks are 20-2 all-time at home against the Pelicans franchise. Dallas is 29-30-2 against the spread and 25-35-1 'over/under' on NBA odds.
This is the last meeting of the regular season, with Dallas holding a 2-1 edge. On Nov. 1 in New Orleans, the Pelicans were 1-point favorites on NBA odds and lost 109-104. Parsons led Dallas with 20 points, while Davis had 31 points and 15 rebounds for the Pelicans. On Dec. 10 in Dallas, the Mavs were 7-point favorites at sportsbooks and won 112-107. Monta Ellis led Dallas with 26 points, 13 of those coming in the final 4:27 of the game. Anderson missed a tying 3-pointer in the final seconds; Jefferson got the rebound and made two free throws to ice it. Davis had 31 points and 11 rebounds. On Jan. 25 in New Orleans, the Pelicans were 3.5-point underdogs but won 109-106. Davis hit the go-ahead free throws in the final seconds and finished with 28 points and 10 rebounds to end the Pelicans' nine-game losing streak in the series. Ellis led Dallas with 36 points, including what had been the go-ahead bucket with 12.3 seconds remaining.
NBA Free Picks: Tough call here not knowing about Chandler, although it appears no Parsons. I'll take the points and go 'under' 198 points with my NBA picks. The underdog has covered four of the past five meetings. The 'under' has hit in the Mavs' past seven after a loss.