Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks are seeking to shock the basketball world and defeat the Los Angeles Clippers in the NBA playoffs' first round, beginning with Monday's Game 1.
Already a seasoned pro from his time playing professionally in Europe, Doncic has proven the NBA stage isn't too big for him. However, this postseason will be a big test for the young phenom, as he goes against reigning Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard and a loaded Clippers squad.
Read on for abe Insights' betting preview for Mavs-Clippers, which has advanced stats to bear in mind, analysis of how the primary lines should trend and the best odds available among the major sportsbooks.
Date: Monday, August 17
Time: 9 p.m. ET
Implied Probabilities: Mavericks 31%; Clippers 71%
Spread: LAC -6
Moneyline: DAL +225; LAC -250
Although Doncic and fellow star Kristaps Porzingis stayed healthy for Dallas throughout the 2019-20 season, the Mavs were hit hard, with players going down often. They've had time to adjust to multiple season-ending injuries, though, and still boast an elite offense.
The Clippers have been adept at resting their biggest stars, especially Leonard. However, they've seen players shuffling in and out of the lineup constantly in Orlando. Montrezl Harrell (18.6 ppg) has yet to play, and is questionable for Monday, along with guards Patrick Beverley and Landry Shamet.
115.9 vs. 113.3: Dallas and L.A. were 1-2 in the NBA in offensive rating, or points per 100 possessions. Defense figures to be tightened up for the playoffs, but these have consistently been the two most efficient offenses in the Association.
22.9 vs. 21.3: The Clippers led the league in number of fouls drawn per contest, with the Mavs ranking a decent ninth overall. Whichever side plays more disciplined defense without drawing as many whistles stands to enhance its chances of winning Game 1.
52.5 vs. 50.6: These last stats show the totals for opponents' effective field goal percentage for the 2019-20 campaign. L.A. had the lower figure, which placed third among all teams, whereas Dallas' total ranked 13th.
Lots of basketball prodigies have a trial-by-fire experience in the NBA, straight from high school or, nowadays, after abbreviated one-and-done college basketball careers. Doncic's path to pro basketball's highest level has been different. He's played against grown, professional men for multiple years, and is now thriving against the world's best.
Sure, a playoff atmosphere is markedly different from the regular season, yet Doncic doesn't seem like a youngster who'll be fazed by any of it. The Orlando bubble has to be more of a benefit to lower-seeded, younger teams like the Mavs than just about any other type of squad.
In spite of these potentially overlooked factors about the precocious Doncic's maturity and composure and how that translates to the postseason, just look at the odds. These Clippers are massive favorites for a myriad of reasons, not least of which is having two elite defenders in Kawhi and Paul George who can guard Doncic as well as anyone.
Even without his core of players on the court together for long stretches of time, L.A. coach Doc Rivers still managed to guide his club to the No. 2 seed in the deep, loaded Western Conference. That's no small achievement, and while Mavs coach Rick Carlisle is one of the best in the business, let's not forget Rivers is a championship winner, too.
Even beyond the Doncic-Porzingis versus Kawhi-PG13 superstar matchup, the duel of coaches between Carlisle and Rivers is underrated. It may well be the best such showdown of the NBA's first round.
Data from TeamRankings.com reveals Dallas as the fourth-best team at hitting the Over, while the Clips hit the Under at the sixth-highest rate in 2019-20. Something obviously has to give, so bettors are likely to offer the edge to the superior squad, and send more action on the Under.
Bold wagers will, of course, be rewarded if the Mavs somehow win, and their moneyline is worth hedging on no matter what. With L.A. being a championship favorite and Leonard leading the way, though, bets will skew on the side of the Clippers' spread, and probably slightly favor their moneyline, especially for parlay bets.
Note: Odds current as of 11:50 a.m. ET on Monday, August 17.
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