As fans, we tend to operate in extremes. Every win can seem like a course-correcting, season-saving feat. Every loss throws into question the decisions of years prior and throws the collective fan base into an existential funk. That’s what happens when you love a team as deeply as some of us do. It defies logic and reason but there’s no hiding it.
With that being said, the following statement is not hyperbolic in any way: The Mavs season is on the line tonight. Asking a healthy Luka to win 4 out of 5 games (three of which would be on the road) is a tall task. Asking a hobbled Luka to accomplish the same goal? That is simply too much to ask even when it involves one of the league’s best players. In fact, it may not make sense to bring Luka back at all should the team fall to 0-2 in the series tonight. It would be in the best interest of the player, and the team, to play the long game and not take any chances with his long-term health.
A win, however, could allow the team to rest Luka until Game 4 on Saturday. The extra 6 days of rest would put him at 13 days since the injury. We don’t know the full extent of the strain but the average turnaround time for calf strains this season was 16 days. At that point, you take your chances with a healthy Luka and give him a fighting chance to go on a run.
Spread: Mavs +5 (-110)
Moneyline: Mavs +180
The Jazz were begging to go down 0-1. There was a 3 minute stretch in the second quarter where the Mavs were up 9 and had the opportunity to stretch the lead to 15 or so but missed 4 consecutive wide-open looks. The Jazz closed the gap before the half and ended up winning the game due in large part to Donovan Mitchell’s 30-point second half. There are a number of ways one can look at game 1.
Some would argue the Mavs were lucky to be up in the first half due to Donovan Mitchell’s early struggles. The easy counter is that the Mavs defense did a good job of playing to his strengths and bringing out the worst in him. Optimists would point to the number of missed 3s and tell you some timely shooting is all the team needs to tie the series up. In truth, Game 3 is going to come down to one man- Jason Kidd. The offense slowed to a crawl at times and the team relied on Jalen Brunson and Spencer Dinwiddie to go 1 on 5 with minimal movement from the supporting cast.
That simply cannot happen again. Brunson and Dinwiddie are good players but neither is capable of carrying the offense in that way. Kidd has to find ways to get the Jazz defense into rotation where Brunson and Dinwiddie can attack them on the move. Considering how limited our roster is, I recognize doing so won't be easy for Kidd. The ability to squeeze the absolute most out of a flawed roster was what made Rick Carlisle great. He thrived in these situations and it’s the reason many considered him a top-tier coach despite his irritable persona. With the season on the line, tonight is Kidd’s opportunity to prove he’s a 16-game coach in addition to an 82-game coach.
ADVICE: Stay away.
Advice: I love the over here. I think the adjustments on the offensive end will outpace the adjustments on the defensive end for both teams. It won’t be a shootout but both teams should be able to crack 100 points.
Two-Team Moneyline Parlay
Advice: The Raptors may be without a few of their key rotation players. On paper, the Sixers look like a pretty good bet to win tonight. If you assume they pull out the victory, a ML parlay would allow you to squeeze out some more value with a Mavs bet.