The Dallas Mavericks might have the best offense in the league right now, but the NBA odds might be too generous for Sunday’s matchup with the Miami Heat. No LeBron James? No problem for the Big Two.
Jason’s record as of Nov. 7: 4-2 ATS
Profit: plus-4.28 units
The Dallas Mavericks are up to their old tricks again. They’ve gotten off to a quick 4-2 SU and ATS start in the double-tough Southwest Division, and they’ve done it with the most efficient offense in the league at 113.1 points per 100 possessions. Dirk Nowtizki must be spending a lot of time at the oxygen bar; at age 36, he’s still playing like an MVP, posting a 27.6 PER through six games and scoring 26.9 points per 36 minutes. Don’t bogart that NC, Dirk.
Here’s another flashback to the days of Don Nelson: The Mavs have the league’s No. 26-ranked defense thus far at 107.6 points allowed per 100 possessions. And that might be enough to keep us from adding Dallas to our Sunday NBA picks when the Miami Heat come to town. Miami is also 4-2 SU and ATS this year, coming off Saturday night’s 102-92 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves (+8 away). Our NBA odds at press time show the Heat getting eight points, up from six points at the open.
Do One Thing and Do it Well
Of course, just because there’s an offense/defense schism in Dallas doesn’t mean that they’re playing Nellie Ball. But current head coach Rick Carlisle has been known to cater his strategies to the strengths of his players, and looking at the 2014-15 roster, that strength is in what today’s top analysts call “scoring the basketball.” Nowitzki, Monta Ellis (18.6 points/36 min) and Chandler Parsons (17.4 points/36) are lighting it up this year. And they’re ably fed by the three-headed point guard of Jameer Nelson, Devin Harris and J.J. Barea.
As for defense – let’s just say it’s a good thing that Tyson Chandler (plus-2.4 DBPM) is back in town. Aside from him and Al-Farouq Aminu (plus-0.3 DBPM), there aren’t any reliable lockdown defenders in the regular Mavs rotation. Six games is a small sample size, but Nowitzki, who used to be at least average on defense, has a minus-2.1 DBPM this year according to Pro Basketball Reference. That’s the worst of his career and the worst of the Mavs’ regulars.
That’s Terrific Shabazz
Defense wasn’t exactly Miami’s calling card during the end of the LeBron James Era, and things have only gotten worse since his departure. Miami went into Saturday’s action ranked No. 22 in defensive efficiency (105.1 points allowed per 100 possessions) and No. 6 on offense (107.4 points/100). The imbalance is similar to the one in Dallas, although each team is 3-3 against the NBA totals.
We’ve identified the Miami Heat as a team that could beat the basketball odds this year on a game-by-game basis, although we’re skeptical about their ability to keep winning during a long and grueling campaign. Miami nearly punted Saturday’s game back to the Timberwolves after taking an early 20-point lead; Chris Bosh (age 30) and Dwyane Wade (age 32) had to come in and play more fourth-quarter minutes than they would have liked with Dallas coming up next (7:30 p.m. ET).
The Mavs were idle on Saturday, and they’re playing at home, so it’s pretty easy to give them the edge when it comes to freshness – although we did see some good things from Miami’s bench against the Wolves, particularly Shabazz Napier, Udonis Haslem and even James Ennis, who played pro ball in Australia last year as a rookie. It’ll help Miami’s cause if Chris Andersen (ribs) gets to suit up – he’s been day-to-day for a while now, as has Danny Granger (hamstring). We’ll take the Heat, the points, and all the help we can get for this NBA pick.
The Five Stars
Market Bias: MIA
Betting Line Value: MIA
Verdict: 1-star pick on MIA
Free NBA Pick: Bet 1.4 units on the Heat +8 (–105) at Pinnacle