Portland at Dallas +1.5 O/U 209
Very quietly, waaaay underneath the radar screens of most bettors, the Dallas Mavericks have emerged as pointspread behemoths in the underdog role. The results do not lie. With rookie point guard Dennis Smith in the lineup, the Mavs are riding a 12-2 ATS mark in their last 14 tries as underdogs.
That 12-2 mark includes a half point ATS defeat to Houston in their last ballgame, losing by seven as 6.5 point underdogs. It’s worth noting that Smith was suffering from a ‘stomach ailment’ in that game; getting only 15 minutes of court time as a result.
Mavs veteran wing Wesley Matthews was not amused by their defensive intensity in that contest, the Mavs fourth loss in their last five games following a 6-3 SU run in their previous nine. It’s surely worth noting that six of the Mavs last eight wins have come in outright fashion as underdogs – Dallas has shown repeatedly that they are capable of stepping up in class.
Matthews: “We've got to shore some things up getting ready to play against Portland, which is a team that's similar (to Houston). They've got guys that can create their own shot and shoot the 3-ball as well. Portland beat us making 18 3s. Houston made 21, so obviously we've got to take the 3-ball out of the game ... We've got to do better. This is obviously a very talented team. ...We did some good things, though we were able to cut the lead to six and five, but we couldn't get over that hump."
With Smith healthy and in the starting lineup, Mavs coach Rick Carlisle has taken a fairly unique approach with his bench. Dallas is bringing a veteran trio off the pine in Dirk Nowitzki, JJ Barea and Devin Harris, a trio that consistently plays ‘smarter’ than their relatively inexperienced counterparts. And with that trio getting key minutes early in the fourth quarter, they’ve got plenty of relatively young and fresh legs to battle late, with Matthews, Smith, Harrison Barnes and Yogi Ferrell getting quality minutes down the stretch.
Portland is coming off a nine point win against the T-Wolves that featured a 43 point third quarter that All Star point guard Damian Lillard called the team’s best quarter in the last two years. “I think that was like a showcase. It was a great display of Blazer basketball." Expect Portland to be hard-pressed to match that level of efficiency here. Live dog!