The Dallas Mavericks have dropped three of four games in the NBA bubble thus far, and their prospects to improve don't look too promising as they get ready to take on the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday.
Milwaukee hasn't played to its highest level either, but the Bucks may have snapped out of something after a 20-0 run in the fourth quarter keyed their rally to a 130-116 win over Miami. That triumph allowed Milwaukee to clinch the East's No. 1 seed.
Read on for abe Insights' betting preview for Bucks-Mavs, featuring advanced stats comparisons for both squads, wagers analysis, the best odds you can find and additional relevant information.
Date: Saturday, August 8
Time: 8:30 p.m. ET
Implied Probabilities: Bucks 68%; Mavericks 34%
Spread: MIL -5.5
Moneyline: MIL -208; DAL +198
Point guard Eric Bledsoe and reserve wing Pat Connaughton weathered positive COVID-19 tests and have returned to Milwaukee's rotation after missing the start of bubble action. Now the Bucks don't have any injury concerns to speak of.
Injuries have gashed Dallas throughout the 2019-20 campaign, and that trend is continuing in Orlando. Sharpshooter Seth Curry and valuable wing Dorian Finney-Smith are both questionable for Saturday, which will challenge the Mavs' depth once again.
49.0 vs. 38.1: These initial stats show the disparity in points given up in the paint per game between the two squads. Dallas is far more generous around the rim than Milwaukee, who sport the NBA's lowest total in this category.
16.8 vs. 14.4: The Bucks actually give up more than two extra points per game off turnovers than the Mavs do. Dallas is second only to Orlando in fewest allowed, while Milwaukee is 13th in the Association.
45.6 vs. 41.3: This final stat matchup simply shows what the Mavs and Bucks respectively give up in terms of opponents' field goal percentage. It's another defensive area where Milwaukee leads the league, but Dallas isn't awful, ranking 12th here.
The big silver lining for Dallas is that the Bucks don't have a ton to play for. They've locked up the East, and should do all they can to load manage Giannis Antetokounmpo before the playoffs, because they'll need him at his absolute best against the NBA's elite.
It's a testament to the coaching job Rick Carlisle has done with the Mavs that they're even in the postseason to begin with. Then, of course, who can deny the greatness of Luka Doncic? He's averaged 29 points, 9.4 boards and 8.8 assists and just turned 21 in February.
Doncic has gotten a lot of recent help from big man Kristaps Porzingis. The international dynamic duo is likely to spearhead many playoff runs in the next decade, health permitting. What's key right now for Dallas, though, is to move as far up in the West as possible in the remaining four games.
As the clear No. 7 seed at the minute, Doncic and Co. would face the Clippers in the opening round. L.A. has been resting its stars, particularly Kawhi Leonard, throughout the season in order to be ready for when it really matters. As the Mavs are currently built, they stand little to no chance, so they'll basically want to face any team other than the Clips if they want to advance to the conference semis.
Taking care of business versus Milwaukee is Step 1 for Dallas, who sit 2.5 games back of Oklahoma City for sixth in the Western Conference. For added context, Denver is 1.5 games behind the Clippers for the No. 2 slot, but the Nuggets are riddled with injuries themselves. In any event, the playoff picture will be fascinating to see unfold.
Per TeamRankings.com, Dallas has had the fifth-highest rate of scores hitting the Over this season. The current point total accounts for not only the fast pace both these teams play at, but also for the fact that Milwaukee likely won't be going full-tilt having secured the top seed. Thus, wagers are bound to trend in the Over direction.
As has been outlined throughout here, the Mavs need this "W" badly, and the Bucks simply don't. Despite the questionable status of multiple key players on Dallas' side, the Mavs moneyline presents a serious value bet that the public will probably pounce on.
And if you're going to take Dallas to win outright, it makes sense to double down on the Mavs' spread, too. Milwaukee's moneyline isn't worth it, and rest will likely be a priority for Giannis, Khris Middleton and other key stars, especially as Bledsoe and Connaughton work back into shape.
Note: Odds current as of 12:15 p.m. ET on Saturday, August 8.
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