NBA on ESPN Betting Preview: Denver Nuggets at Dallas Mavericks

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Denver at Dallas

Time: 6:30 PM CST (ESPN)

Spread: DAL -3

Total: 220.5

Odds c/o 5dimes

The Dallas Mavericks have won five of its last 10 games to arrive at a 23-13 record, and the Mavericks are 11-8 at home where it hosts the visiting Denver Nuggets. Dallas is 3-point favorites in the affair, with the over/under set at 220.5 points according to NBA oddsmakers at 5dimes.

DALLAS NEWS & NOTES:

The Dallas Mavericks have won two straight and is regaining its momentum with Luka Doncic back in the fold. Doncic sprained his ankle but made a fairly quick recovery, while also signing with Michael Jordan’s Jumpman sneaker line (for whatever that matters).

With Doncic out, the Mavericks got a good look at Kristaps Porzingis, who turned in another strong game in the Mavs’ loss to Boston. He tallied 23 points on 8 of 19 shooting to go along with 13 rebounds, three blocks, two assists, and a steal. Now is the time we see whether or not Kristaps still has cornerstone abilities. Now, however, it is Porzingis who finds himself out with injury. He has missed five straight games due to knee soreness in his right knee.

On the season Porzingis is averaging 17.4 points and 9.2 rebounds per game, but all suggestions are that he was able to greatly increase his usage percentage with Doncic unavailable. The Mavericks need to get another guy to step up, because Doncic left a 29.3 point, 8.9 assist hole when he sprained his ankle. While he is expected to make a full recovery and is already back in triple-double form (!), the Mavs are still in overhaul replacing his production. Although the Doncic-Porzingis punch is a strong one, the Mavericks still seem to be lacking a “third star” to complete the picture.

DEN NEWS & NOTES:

The Denver Nuggets are playing better, and as one would guess it mostly relates to a turnaround on the part of its star center Nikola Jokic. Denver is 25-11 and leads the Northwest division by one game over the No. 2 Utah Jazz.

Some have criticized Jokic for his poor conditioning, but it is hard to ignore the fact that he continues to play good basketball overall while using his immense skills to more than makeup for his slow feet. Jokic is averaging 18.9 points, 9.8 rebounds and a team-leading 6.4 assists per game while posting a PER of 24.43. He also recently posted a 47-point game, so while Jokic may never appear to do anything too quickly, he does make the right moves and can be a dominant center in an era that does not even favor big men.

The Nuggets are led in scoring by Jamal Murray, who many expected to make a still-bigger leap following his outstanding postseason performances in 2019.

Instead, Murray is the second-leading at 17.8 points per game, and ranking No. 2 in assists at 4.8 per. Will Barton continues to look like a poor man’s Kevin Durant, providing a lot of shooting on the wing and a fearless trigger. Barton averages 14.8 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 3.7 assists per game and is one of five Nuggets with a PER above the league average of 15 (16.51).

The Nuggets are a deep team on paper, but it is still really not testing out the talents of Michael Porter Jr that much, and Malik Beasley has seen his role decline this season as well. Gary Harris and Barton both see over 32 minutes per game, leaving the backups to fight over the remaining minutes, leaving some good talents to sit, naturally. Juancho Hernangomez has had his role decline, though he still averages four points per game in just 13 minutes a night.

The Nuggets will eventually likely decided on a shorter rotation, but for the time being there are 11 Nuggets who play at least 14 minutes per game. It is a team loaded with talent, but both of its top scoring options are probably not true No. 1 options on a contending team, and that includes Jokic. The Nuggets have great team chemistry, but one wonders if its lack of true star power might not hurt it. While Nikola Jokic and Murray function quite well as a tandem, it seems Denver would be better delegating more responsibility to one or the other, to develop a true 1A option, especially late in games.

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