Dallas at Philadelphia
Time: 7 PM CST (ESPN)
Spread: PHI -8.5
Odds c/o 5dimes
The Dallas Mavericks have made a tremendous turnaround, and it is largely due to the play of Luka Doncic. With Doncic sidelined for two-weeks, the Mavericks have a much tougher task. Dallas is 8.5-point underdogs in Philadelphia in NBA action on ESPN Friday night at 7 PM CST. The over/under is set at 212.5 points according to NBA oddsmakers at bookmaker 5dimes.
The Dallas Mavericks have lost three of its last five games, and it is having a tough time without leading scorer and jack-of-all-trades Luka Doncic initiating its offense. Dallas most recently fell 103-109 to the Boston Celtics, but it did sneak a surprise-victory out of its Eastern Conference road trip in knocking off the Milwaukee Bucks 120-116 in the game prior. In the win over Milwaukee, Dallas got 26 points and 12 rebounds from Kristaps Porzingis, along with four other players scoring in double-figures to improve to 10-2 on the road this year. Dallas is the league’s most improved team, and it is now taking the chance to show that Doncic is not really the only reason.
All eyes are now on Porzingis, who turned in another strong game in the 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. Seth Curry came off the bench to hit 8 of 13 including 4 of 8 from three for 20 points, four rebounds, and two assists. Curry is the most talented of the remaining backcourt players after Doncic, but Tim Hardaway Jr really should be doing far better in picking up the slack. He shot 4 of 17 from the field for 13 points in the loss to Boston. Dallas is just 8-7 at home this season.
On the season Porzingis is averaging 17.4 points and 9.2 rebounds per game, but all suggestions are that he will greatly increase his usage percentage with Doncic unavailable. The Mavericks need to get another guy to stop 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, the Mavs are still in overhaul replacing his production.
Philadelphia enters as losers of its past two, after dropping contests to the Brooklyn Nets and Miami Heat. The Sixers are 20-9 on the season and visit the Mavericks tonight on ESPN.
Philly center Joel Embiid is putting together another MVP caliber season. The former Kansas big man is averaging 22.7 points, 12.6 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.6 blocks/steals per game. His 25.02 PER leads the team. No. 2 scorer Tobias Harris also looks far more comfortable in his first full season with the team. He had some struggles adapting last season, particularly in the playoffs, but has come around now to average 19.7 points and 6.8 rebounds per game. Harris’ court stretching is the most valuable aspect, opening up the floor for Embiid and Ben Simmons to do their work.
Simmons still is not really taking outside shots, but it has not mattered a lot. The Aussie is tallying 14.4 points and 8.1 assists per game, as definitely the NBA’s most unique point guard standing 6’9.” There are some lingering issues as to whether he and Embiid are definitely the best duo to continue to build around, but there is no denying the individual talents of either.
Josh Richardson has seamlessly stepped in as a third scorer behind Embiid and Harris, essentially assuming the role Jimmy Butler once did, but doing so at a much younger age. That gives the Sixers core some continuity and longevity since none of its core players are old veterans. That excludes the presence and name of Al Horford, whose talents have allowed Philly to keep Embiid’s playing time hovering around 30 minutes per game.