Monday, August 17:
(7)Dallas Mavericks vs. (2)Los Angeles Clippers (-6.5)
- Moneyline: LAC -275
- Over/Under: 229.5
- Coverage: ESPN at 9:00pm EST
The Clippers enter the playoffs with the third best odds to capture the title (+270) behind only the Bucks and Lakers, but their championship aspirations are foremost contingent upon outlasting Luka Doncic, Kristaps Porzingis and the Mavericks in the first round. Los Angeles bested Dallas in all three of their meetings this season, twice by 15 points and once by 3 points. The lone game decided by a narrow margin was due in part to the absence of Paul George, but PG13 is no longer battling injury and will be active for Monday night’s tilt.
Both teams excel at offensive efficiency with Dallas ranking first and Los Angeles ranking second in the league, but the discrepancy between the two teams in defensive efficiency favors the Clippers, who rank 5th compared to Dallas’ inferior standing at 18th. Led by two-time defensive player of the year Kawhi Leonard, the Clippers are well equipped to match up against the Mavericks’ high-powered offense, but the same case can’t be made for Dallas’ below-average defense opposite Los Angeles’ dynamic attack.
Dating back to last season, the Clippers have won four consecutive games ATS against Dallas, and as of late, they’re 6-2 ATS in the bubble and have covered the spread in 12 of their last 16 games. The Mavericks, on the other hand, are just 2-6 ATS since the restart and have failed to cover in 11 of their last 16 contests. While tonight’s spread of 6.5 points isn’t cheap, look for the Clippers to break the game open in the fourth quarter and squeak out a cover.
Game Pick: LA Clippers -6.5
Series Pick: LA Clippers in 5 Games (+250)
In addition to the Clippers’ aforementioned statistical advantages this season, history also favors Los Angeles. The Mavericks haven’t won the opening game of a playoff series, or an entire playoff series for that matter, since their championship run in 2010, and their young core of Doncic and Porzingis have yet to experience the intensity of NBA playoff competition. Clippers veterans Paul George and Kawhi Leonard have extensive playoff records to lean on, as George has logged 76 career playoff starts and Leonard has won two championships. Dallas possesses enough offensive talent to secure one victory in this series, but Los Angeles’ experience should allow them to make relatively quick work of the Mavericks.
- Jerome Miron (USA TODAY Sports)
- Chris Elise (NBAE via Getty Images)