The Dallas Mavericks (minus Luka Doncic) are the right NBA pick this Wednesday versus the Los Angeles Lakers (with LeBron James).
Los Angeles Lakers vs. Dallas Mavericks
Wednesday, December 15, 2021 – 7:30 PM EST at American Airlines Center
Wednesday’s game between the Los Angeles Lakers (15-13 SU, 11-17 ATS) and the Dallas Mavericks (14-13 SU, 12-15 ATS) must have looked very appealing to the schedule-makers at ESPN. But will it even happen? The omicron variant of COVID-19 has thrown several teams for a loop; the Lakers got the bad news on Tuesday that guard Talen Horton-Tucker had tested positive, which led the team to cancel their practice and get everyone tested before flying to Dallas.
Assuming they play, the Lakers won’t be the only short-handed team in this matchup. Luka Doncic (ankle) will sit this one out for the Mavericks, along with Willie Cauley-Stein (personal), and Sterling Brown (ankle) is listed as questionable. The NBA odds are understandably on hold while the Lakers sort out their medical situation, but as long as LeBron James is playing, the Mavericks are the right choice for your basketball picks – even more so with Doncic out of the picture.
Heavy Lies The Head
As you may recall from earlier articles in this space, Los Angeles has had a very hard time covering games with LeBron in the lineup. The last time we checked in was December 3, ahead of their meeting with the Los Angeles Clippers; at that point, the Lakers were 7-4 SU and 2-9 ATS with James in uniform. He played that game, and the Clippers won 119-115 as 2.5-point “home” faves.
Something has happened since then. Perhaps in response to all the negative talk surrounding him and his team, James has upped his intensity level of late, and the Lakers are 3-1 SU and ATS since that Clippers game. So maybe the Lakers aren’t an instant fade when LeBron plays – but they’re more vulnerable now that Horton-Tucker isn’t playing, and there’s a good chance Anthony Davis (knee) won’t be available, either.
The Mavericks have had their own fade/follow dynamic with Doncic, who, like James, has played more like an All-Star this year and less like an MVP candidate. Dallas won their last two games SU and ATS minus Doncic, running their record to 2-4 SU and 4-2 ATS without their best player on the floor.
Meanwhile, Kristaps Porzingis is playing the best basketball of his career, at least at the offensive end, and players like Dorian Finney-Smith and Jalen Brunson have been more than serviceable. Horton-Tucker and Brown have both played poorly this year, so their absence would actually be welcome to Dallas bettors at this point.
This is yet another game where you’ll need to wait for the morning shoot-around – and the opening NBA lines – before you can make a sharp wager. If James plays, the Lakers should still be worth fading, but size your bets smaller to account for his recent burst, and enjoy the show.
NBA Pick: Mavericks +1.5 (-110) with BetMGM