Mavericks vs. Celtics NBA Preview

Josh Richardson #0 of the Dallas Mavericks drives.   Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images/AFP
Josh Richardson #0 of the Dallas Mavericks drives. Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images/AFP

For the Wednesday NBA lid-lifter on ESPN, here is the question about this matchup. Who exactly are the Dallas Mavericks and Boston Celtics? We will take our stab at answering this about both teams. However, we do know this, they are not who we expected them to be.

As this Hump Day commences, Dallas and Boston are both in seventh place in their respective conferences. Each is searching for answers to find the magic formula that propels them up the standings to avoid tougher competition when the playoffs commence, yet, for every answer is another question about each club.

Dallas Mavericks vs. Boston Celtics

TD Garden

The NBA odds at 888Sports and other top betting sites have Boston as a one-point home underdog to the Mavericks with a total of 224.5. Uneasy is the heart of the basketball bettor trying to figure these two clubs out.

What Exactly is Dallas Doing?

The general consensus is the Mavericks should be better than their 24-21 record (21-24 ATS). In the first part of the season, Luka Doncic was not playing to his typical standard and Kristaps Porzingis was in and out of the lineup, which generated a great deal of inconsistency. In late February and early March, Dallas seemed to put it together in winning six of seven. Since, the Mavs are back to their old ways and are 5-5 SU and ATS.

With the term – Load Management – coming up and utilized with Doncic and Porzingis, what is Dallas trying to accomplish? Giving one or both players time off may keep them fresher with a lesser chance of being injured, but that also lessens the chances of the Mavericks winning.

In keeping with that thought, does it make sense to rest your two best players and set yourself up to lose in the first round to Utah, Phoenix, or the L.A. Clippers? Gee, wouldn’t that be wonderful to know you were swiftly eliminated, but your stars are fresh going into the off-season?

For coach Rick Carlisle’s crew to start winning with greater frequency, they have to be better than 10th in offensive efficiency and 25th in defensive efficiency.

Plodding Boston Headed Nowhere

In almost the same scenario as tonight’s opponent, when the Celtics won four in a row at basically the same time, Boston fans were thinking “Finally! Here we go!” Turns out, the C’s were like the streets in their town, a lot of one way’s and headed the wrong direction.

Since returning from the All-Star break, Boston is 4-7 (5-6 ATS) and playing with the same non-urgent style we witnessed most of the first half of the season. On any given night coach Brad Stevens might see the offense have little movement or shoot poorly and follow that up not playing any defense the next outing.

This is a roster that needed an infusion of talent, toughness, or butt-kicker at the trade deadline and ended up with Evan Fournier, Moritz Wagner and Luke Kornet. Not exactly racing the pulse players.

Stevens is an even-keel, keep it positive orator and he is well-regarded as a wise basketball mind. However, this team looks like it requires a major attitude adjustment. Granted, the Celtics do miss a shot-blocker and the ability to defend in the paint. This mostly explains why they have crumbled from a Top 10 unit in defensive efficiency for three consecutive years to 22nd at present.

Nonetheless, the perimeter defenders could do a much better job in containing dribble penetration with increased effort.

The Point Spread Winner

For NBA picks, the status and availability of Jaylen Brown with a hip and listed as ‘Questionable’ does matter in what the sportsbooks decided. If Brown does play, we are thinking he’s far less than 100%.

Dallas has played somewhat better on the road than at home at 13-11 SU and ATS and outscoring the opposition by 3.8 PPG. Boston is a solid 13-8 at TD Garden (12-9 ATS), yet, they are 6-14 ATS after playing a home game this season.

This seems like a down to the wire, last minute affair and we’ll side with Mavs because of this. When the line is +3 to -3 and the road team, like Dallas, is off a blowout win by 20 points or more, against an opponent after scoring 105 points or more four straight games, they are 27-5 ATS.

NBA Picks: Mavericks -1 point (-109) at 888Sport