Boston at Dallas
Time: 8:30 PM CST (ESPN)
Spread: BOS -2
Odds c/o 5dimes
The Boston Celtics sit at 17-7 and are five games behind the Eastern Conference-leading Milwaukee Bucks. The Celtics have lost its last two, and it travels to Dallas to face the Mavericks as just 2-point favorites. The over/under is set at 218.5 points according to NBA oddsmakers, and the game tips off at 8:30 PM (CST) on ESPN.
The Boston Celtics are clearly a better team without Kyrie Irving. Kemba Walker has stepped into the role of No. 1 scorer, and he is averaging 21.9 points and 5.1 assists in his first season as a Celtic. Jayson Tatum, too, has stepped it up in his third season. The former Duke swingman is averaging 21 points and seven rebounds per game. And if that was not enough, Jaylen Brown has taken on a much bigger scoring role in averaging just under 20 points per game. Adding to this trio, Gordon Hayward is progressing well from his surgery and should be back in the lineup soon. The C’s are locked and loaded and absolute contenders in the Eastern Conference.
Boston averages 110.8 points per game this season while continuing to play its tough brand of defense. The team shoots 44 percent from the floor and 35.1 percent on threes (35.1 attempts per game). Boston also is still waiting for eventual-starting center Enes Kanter to round into shape following an injury to starting the season. Daniel Theis has performed admirably in his absence, but Kanter will bring a scoring punch to the 5-spot that Theis and Robert Williams III cannot.
Marcus Smart continues to function well as a jack-of-all-trades sixth man, or a “stretch-6” as he called himself in the preseason. Smart is averaging 11.9 points and 4.7 assists per game and can provide defense at all positions. The Celtics depth is functional— in the sense that its backups provide different looks and strengths than its starters. Carsen Edwards has looked good in limited minutes and will be a solid backup for Walker for the first three seasons of his NBA career. The Celtics just have a lot going on, and even without Hayward and Kanter, this team has rolled to a .750 winning percentage thus far.
The Dallas Mavericks have been something of a surprise so far. Perhaps it should not be. Luka Doncic has made the necessary steps from his great rookie season to one of the truly elite players in the league, and Kristaps Porzingis certainly seems strong and healthy again. With that duo, the Mavericks have one of the best 1-2 punches in the Association. It is depth where things begin to get shakier, as the team is short on the No. 3 and No. 4 options.
Doncic turned his ankle in the last outing and is expected to miss roughly two-weeks rehabbing it. The blow could not come at a worse time as the Mavericks were really building up some momentum and steam this season.
Doncic is averaging nearly a triple-double with 30.3 points, 10.1 rebounds and 9.2 assists per game, and he is drawing comparisons basically to a “Euro LeBron James,” at this point. Porzingis has assumed the role of the No. 2 option, and he has faired well. The former New York Knick is averaging 16.8 points, 8.9 rebounds, 1.4 assists, and 2.2 blocks per game. He has had five games with five blocks or more, though, which leads the league. Tim Hardaway Jr and JJ Barea round out the other double-digit scorers for Dallas, but both averaged under 12 points per game.
Dallas still tallies 118 per game, though, with a deep 12-man rotation. While Dallas may lack some of the necessary complementary parts to make Doncic and Porzingis really thrive, the team is building steam and it could be a surprise in the 2020 NBA playoffs. Doncic is making his name. Porzingis is healthy.
The Mavericks can be a really dangerous team, and soon–but it probably needs to either add a third big scorer or get more out of Tim Hardaway Jr. Hardaway has shown a great offensive prowess over his career, and 12.4 points per game seem kind of like the bare minimum that can be asked of the former second-round pick. With Doncic out, it might be Hardaway who is most responsible for picking up the scoring void created by losing a 30 point per game scorer.