Submitted by Jim Hurley on Wednesday, April 23, 2014 at 7:00 AM
Through the first weekend of action, the Dallas Mavericks were the only road underdog to cover a spread but NOT win their game outright. The other dog covers were upset shockers. Dallas was positioned to do that…but fell apart in the second half at the worst possible time.
This was a game they “should” have won. And, big series underdogs rarely recover from that kind of choke job. Worse, they lost a game that saw San Antonio shoot only 3 of 17 on three-pointers. The Spurs are unlikely to be that bad again. Dallas needed San Antonio to go 1 of 17 on treys for the opener to be a win!
The biggest problem for Dallas is in the area of inside defense. They don’t have anything near playoff caliber on that side of the floor. They let the Spurs shoot exactly 50% inside the arc Easter Sunday while only forcing 10 turnovers. Your “defense” can’t be “hoping” the other team misses treys. Clearly the Mavericks have to do more inside to have any chance to make this a series.
Let’s run the final regular season numbers in our key indicator stats, as we continue our series-by-series studies through this first full week of NBA Playoff action…
Dallas: 109.0 per 100 possessions (ranked #2 in the NBA)
San Antonio: 108.2 per 100 possessions (ranked #6 in the NBA)
Dallas definitely has a playoff caliber offense! Dirk Nowitzki is still a force of nature. Monta Ellis provides an additional threat for explosive scoring. This is an elite unit. Of course, so is San Antonio! The Spurs have more weapons and more versality, only ranking 0.8 points per 100 possessions behind Dallas because they rest their best scorers so often. If San Antonio HAD to earn a better regular season offensive rating, they could. They finished #6 even while spreading around their minutes.
Dallas: 105.9 per 100 possessions (ranked #22 in the NBA)
San Antonio: 100.1 per 100 possessions (ranked #4 in the NBA)
Here is where Dallas falls off the map. If you’re below average on defense in the whole league…when a significant portion of the league isn’t even trying to win…then you’re in huge trouble come playoff time. Dallas has the worst playoff defense when you look at a composite of stats. And, they’re WAY behind the teams who really matter. That’s almost six points per 100 possessions up above…huge by playoff standards.
San Antonio: #12
This might surprise you. San Antonio is seen as an old team that works out of the halfcourt, while Dallas is assumed to be a fast team because they play high-scoring games. But, it’s actually San Antonio that’s the faster team when you count up the possessions. The Spurs are slightly above average in pace. Dallas is right at league average, which is how they exploit what Nowitzki and Ellis have to offer. That could be good news when games slow down because it’s closer to the Dallas comfort zone. Of course, Dallas didn’t thrive in the fourth quarter this past Sunday, so it’s probably a moot point. The Spurs have a lot of playoff experience. They’re not going to be thrown by tempo changes.
Against the Spread
San Antonio: 45-37
Both teams earned profits for their backers this season. San Antonio did that despite winning the West last year and being a popular frontrunner all season. For YEARS, oddsmakers have underestimated this team’s ability to win by solid margins. Let’s remember that Dallas did cover the first game even if they didn’t win it. Maybe the Mavs will offer value in this series even if they can’t extend it very far.
Las Vegas Line:
San Antonio by 8, total of 198
Once again the market has adjusted in the direction of the “must-win” team that just dropped the opener. San Antonio closed at -9 in the first game. The number as we write this is a point below that. Did Dallas lose its spirit by blowing that first game? If so, then this will be a Spurs blowout. If not, then we may see a replay of what Memphis did to Oklahoma in Game Two of that series.
Dallas/San Antonio is very likely to be part of a Wednesday Night NBA PARLAY based on the information we’re hearing from the home office. Other Wednesday matchups include Charlotte/Miami and Portland/Houston. You can purchase the final word for Wednesday during the day right here at this website with your credit card.
If you have any questions, call us in the office at 1-888-777-4155 during normal business hours. Be sure to ask about NBA/MLB combination packages when you call, and about the upcoming thrills in horse racing’s Triple Crown.
We’re now FIVE games through our sequence of looking over all eight first round machups. The schedule for the rest of the week is…
Thursday: Indiana at Atlanta Game Three
Friday: Toronto at Brooklyn Game Three
Saturday: Miami at Charlotte Game Three
Sunday: LA Angels at NY Yankees in the MLB on ESPN
After that brief MLB interlude, we’ll go back to basketball on Monday…focusing on the most important or most appealing matchup each evening with expanded showcase coverage.
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