In the first of 2 games on TNT tonight, we will be previewing the Dallas Mavericks and New Orleans Pelicans game! Originally, this game was scheduled so that a national audience could be wowed by Zion Williamson and 2nd year pro Luka Doncic. Instead, we only get 1 of the fascinating young players tonight… and he’s nearly the frontrunner for the NBA MVP award.
When and Where
Tipping off at 7:30 PM EST, the Mavs and Pelicans will air on TNT or via NBA League Pass (TNT OT). The Mavs enter the game with a 13-6 record meanwhile the Pelicans only have a 6-14 record (4-6 at home).
Why We’re Watching
The aforementioned showdown between Luka Doncic and Zion Williamson will have to wait. Since Zion is still nursing an injury, this game is projected to be one-sided in the away teams’ favor. Not to mention that Derrick Favors and Kenrich Williams will also miss action for the home squad. Despite both teams matching up fairly evenly in terms of points scored and stats, the Pelicans allow much more (118.9 to 109.8) points to be scored on them.
When we deep-dive into the Pelicans lately, we can see that they’ve lost 5 games in a row and with the last three games by 5 points or less. Sure, 2 of those games were against the Thunder which isn’t that impressive… but one was against the Lakers! This Pelicans team is full of youth and they’re going to click together eventually. Their defensive struggles can be attributed to both the pace of play and inexperience. That will clean itself up with the emergence of rookie rim-protector Jaxson Hayes. Also, with Lonzo Ball back in the lineup, the Pelicans stretch Brandon Ingram up to the PF slot which creates mismatches on both sides of the floor. What no one saw coming was Ingram becoming one of the better players in the NBA through the first month+ of the season. It’s almost as if he and former teammate Kyle Kuzma did some Space Jam talent swapping.
I wouldn’t be doing this team justice if I didn’t mention Jrue Holiday, the Pelicans best player. Holiday is 3rd in the NBA in steals per game (2.0) and also leads the Pelicans in assists per game. In fact, Holiday is currently beating his career averages in every noteworthy category. His approaching 20-points per game and is the man the Pelicans want to have the ball in late-game situations. He’ll have his work cut out for himself tonight as he’ll likely be tasked with guarding the potential MVP of the NBA.
The NBA’s 3rd leading scorer and runner up assists per game man, Luka Doncic, is taking the NBA by storm. I’ve seen some say that Luka is ready to take the torch from LeBron just as King James did from Kobe. The 20-year old(!) phenom has made the leap from Euroleague ball to the NBA with little to no issue.
Speaking of Euroleague basketball, the Mavs have finally gotten their big investment on the court: Kristaps Porzingis. The 7-footer is 5th in the NBA in blocks per game and is the perfect compliment to Luka and his near average triple-double. The best thing about Porzingis is his ability to roll or pop when setting a screen. He can knock down shots from all parts of the court which draws the opposing bigs out of the paint. When that happens, it opens up second-chance scoring opportunities and creates driving lanes for Tim Hardaway Jr and Dorian Finney-Smith. The issue for the Mavs has been consistent play from the C position. With Maxi Kleber and Dwight Powell struggling to score and grab rebounds, they’re basically just there to clog the paint.
Betting Done Quick
The Mavs (-210) are -5.0 point favorites (-105) and I think that is a steal of line. When I was pulling my numbers and making projections, I had the Mavs winning by at least 9 and when I adjusting them they were 11 point favorites. As for the total, this game projects to be one of the higher scoring games on tonights NBA slate. I am a sucker for the OVER in most cases… and I’m going with the OVER again! With a line of 233.5 points, I like the pace of these teams to hit that mark.
Leading Scorer: Luka Doncic
Best Fantasy Value: Josh Hart