The roller-coaster stretch continues for the Nuggets as they gear up to take on a Mavericks team playing on short rest. Denver secured a hollow 109-95 victory over the league-leading Milwaukee Bucks Monday night. Milwaukee's roster was very thin as Denver covered at home as a 7-point favorite and the game stayed under the total of 234.5 points. The win came on the heels of a disappointing 104-102 road loss to the bottom-feeding Cleveland Cavaliers.
Dallas was outscored 65-50 in the second half of a 119-109 road loss to San Antonio on Tuesday. It’s likely the Mavericks took their foot off the gas pedal in anticipation of Wednesday’s tilt against Denver. Keep an eye on the Dallas injury report as Luka Doncic has not played in the second game of a back-to-back since the end of January. The Mavs are 8-1-1 ATS in the first quarter over the last 10 games while Denver is 7-24 ATS in the first quarter on the road.
PREDICTION: Mavericks First Quarter
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The Nuggets and Mavericks have split two prior matchups this season with each team winning on the other’s home court. Nikola Jokic had 33 points on 12-of-20 shooting in a 107-106 Denver victory back on January 8 as Doncic finished one rebound shy of a triple-double. Both teams had success from the floor, as Dallas held a 59-56 lead at the half. It's a bit surprising that the Mavericks opened as slight favorites in the second game of a back-to-back, which pushes us towards the home team even more. Dallas is 7-3 ATS in the first half over its last 10 games.
PREDICTION: Mavericks +0.5 First Half
Jamal Murray did not make a 3-pointer in the last matchup between these two teams as the shooting guard went 0 for 3 from beyond the arc. Murray has been stroking it well of late and has drained at least two triples in each of the last three games. He's a significantly better 3-point shooter on the road (39.7 percent) than he is at home (30.9 percent). With the Mavericks defense a bit weary, expect Murray to have a better shooting performance and surpass his reasonably-priced point total.
PREDICTION: Jamal Murray Over 19.5 Points (-125)
The Mavericks offense is ranked third in the NBA in scoring, averaging 116.5 points per game. However, the points have not traveled with the Under going 6-0 in their last six road games. The Denver defense is clicking, allowing just 99 points over the last two games. Milwaukee committed 17 turnovers and shot just 38 percent from the floor as the Nuggets were able to exert their will on the defensive end.
If Doncic and Porzingis both play, Denver should expect a much faster tempo than what they saw against the depleted Milwaukee lineup. The Mavs are running the seventh-fastest pace in the NBA since the All-Star break and the Over is 21-12 at home this season. The Dallas shooters are very comfortable at American Airlines Arena.
PREDICTION: Over 218
For the second straight game, Porzingis was held to just nine points as the big man struggled to find his offensive touch in Tuesday’s loss to the Spurs. Porzingis is 7 of 32 from the floor over his last two games - both Dallas losses. Prior to that, Porzingis had a stretch of five straight games scoring at least 24 points as he continues to be a catalyst for the Mavericks offense.
Doncic scored 38 points in Tuesday’s loss and is averaging 27.1 points, 8.3 rebounds and nine assists over his last eight games. In order for Dallas to reach its true potential, both Doncic and Porzingis need to be operating at a high level.
The matchup to keep an eye on is Denver big Nikola Jokic taking on the dynamic Dallas duo. If both play, the Mavs have a decisive edge on both ends. The Mavericks are 18-7-1 ATS after a loss this season and haven't been bothered by short rest, going 6-5 SU and 5-5-1 ATS in the second game of a back-to-back.
PREDICTION: Mavericks +2