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Odds and Ends

NBA Best Bets: Nuggets vs. Mavericks 1/8

by Covers.com
Updated On: January 8, 2020, 4:30 pm ET

Dallas is in the middle of a six-game home stand, having won two of the first three games (1-1-1 ATS) in this span with the lone loss coming in overtime to Charlotte. Denver is in the final outing of a five-game road trip that had the team on the East Coast earlier in the week, splitting the first four games of this stretch (1-2-1 ATS).

Oddsmakers opened the Mavericks as 2-point home favorites but action on the home side has since raised that spread to -3. We not only dive into the best bets for the spread and total for this game, but serve up our top prop picks and predictions for Denver at Dallas.

DENVER NUGGETS AT DALLAS MAVERICKS (-3, 218)

QUICK HITTER

The Mavericks are one of the fastest-starting teams in the NBA, pouring in an average of 29.2 points per opening quarter on the season – second most in the Association. Dallas has even maintained this early pace without mismatch nightmare Kristaps Porzingis in the lineup, as he’s been out with knee issues since December 29. 

Denver has been a solid defense in the opening quarter on the year but has been run out of the gym in the first frame during this road trip, allowing the previous four host teams to average 34.3 points per first quarter. That’s a notable jump from the Nuggets’ 28.6-point allotment in the opening 12 minutes on the road this season.

Denver has scored just 25.3 first-quarter points for in that four-game span, shooting just under 44 percent from the field and just 25 percent from 3-point range.

PREDICTION: First quarter Dallas -1

 

FIRST HALF

The Nuggets are dealing with some road rash after playing their longest road trip of the season. Denver will be facing its fifth road opponent in 10 days with a cross-country trip to the East Coast in the middle of it all before finishing up in Dallas tonight. 

The Nuggets caught a bit of a break the past two games of this trip, facing Atlanta and Washington – the two worst defenses in the NBA. Denver, which beat the Hawks but lost to the Wizards, shot almost 49 percent from the field against those cupcake defenses, but managed only 28 percent shooting from beyond the arc.

Dallas presents a much tougher challenge on defense and has checked visiting teams to less than 34 percent shooting from distance in the first half of home games. The Mavericks allow 54.9 first-half points against inside the American Airlines Center and shouldn’t have too much trouble slowing down a drained Denver team in the opening two frames.

PREDICTION: Denver first-half team total – Under 55.5

 

TEAM/PLAYER PROP

Denver forward Paul Millsap has been battling through a knee injury in recent games and played just over 23 minutes in the win against Atlanta, posting just two points and four rebounds. 

Millsap is averaging 6.6 points and 5.4 boards over his last 10 outings – obviously slowed by that bum knee – but has had a couple days to heel up before this important Western Conference matchup in Dallas. 

Millsap, who is listed as probable for this game, has bullied the Mavericks since joining Denver in 2017-18, with an average of 21.3 points and 8.8 rebounds over four meetings with Dallas. He dropped 23 points and eight rebounds in the Nuggets’ 109-106 loss to the Mavs at home back on October 29.

Dallas is missing some size inside with Porzingis out and is allowing 32.5 rebounds per game to opposing forwards in the four games without the Latvian unicorn. Even with Millsap on one good knee, he should be able to beat this modest rebounding total.

PREDICTION: Paul Millsap Over 5.5 rebounds

 

TOTAL BET

The Mavericks enter this mid-week matchup as the top Over bet in the NBA, riding a 23-13 Over/Under record, including a 12-7 O/U mark at home. 

Dallas has topped the total in each of the first three games of this current six-game stand inside the American Airlines Center and sizes up a Nuggets defense that’s going through an identity crisis in recent weeks. 

Denver, which was No. 1 in points allowed per game (102.7) following its Christmas Day appearance, is giving up an average of 119 points over its last six outings – playing Over the total in each of those contests. 

Rival teams are shooting at better than 51 percent from the floor in those six games, while knocking down 41.3 percent of their looks from 3-point range. Dallas is among the league elite in 3-point shooting, averaging 14.7 makes from long range at home – collecting 39 percent of its total offensive production from beyond the arc on the season.

PREDICTION: Over 218

 

SPREAD BET

The Nuggets will be missing some fire power when they take on the Mavericks. Small forward Will Barton is out due to a personal issue, taking his near 15 points and seven rebounds per game out of the starting lineup. Denver will turn to backup forwards Michael Porter Jr. and Torrey Craig to plug that hole, which could be bigger than books are giving Barton credit for. 

He’s coming off a 28-point performance against the Hawks and had 19 points and 11 boards in the previous meeting with the Mavs. But it’s his efforts on defense that Denver could miss the most Wednesday.

Dallas star Luka Doncic is absolutely on fire right now, averaging almost 36 points over his last four outings. Barton would have been matched up on Doncic, who had just 12 points on 3-for-12 shooting over 32:29 minutes in that October 29 meeting. 

The Mavericks also have backcourt mate Tim Hardaway Jr. back in the starting lineup after he sat out three games with a hamstring injury. Hardaway posted 15 points and went 3 for 4 from beyond the arc in his return game versus the Bulls on Monday. He’s been fantastic from distance since moving into the starting five, hitting 44 percent of his 3-point shots and averaging more than 16 points per game.

We like the Mavs to overwhelm the road-weary Nuggets, who can't wait to get back home.

PREDICTION: Dallas -3

 

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