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Mavericks Odds: What the current odds say about the Dallas Mavericks’ ability to win the series

The vibes in Dallas are immaculate, so why haven’t the odds changed much?

NBA: Playoffs-Utah Jazz at Dallas Mavericks Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

The Mavericks are now +170 to advance to the second round after entering the series as +230 underdogs. While the line has shifted some, I expected the odds would have been more favorable towards the Mavs. Why?

  • News came out that there is optimism regarding a potential Luka return
  • The Jazz aren’t a public favorite
  • If we’re being honest, the Jazz are a ton of fun to root against

So, why, exactly have the odds not come down?

The Mavericks have made it clear they won't rush Luka back. If the Mavs happen to be in a position to win the series by the time Luka is ready, great. If not, they are happy to sit him in a potential do or die game if they feel his long-term health would be compromised by playing. In truth, it’s the right play and probably the only way the Mavs can play this. Vegas is hedging against the possibility he doesn’t play at all.

Vegas, like many of us including Jason Kidd, has realized the team has one passable lineup. The combination of Brunson, Dinwiddie, Bullock, Finney-Smith, and Kleber is the only lineup that can consistently generate open looks against the Jazz. Dwight Powell has gotten better as a player and his chemistry with Luka is a big reason for the Mav’s regular-season success. Without Luka, however, his presence on the court makes it easier for the Jazz to contain our offense. With Powell on the court, the Jazz will switch every Pick and Roll action with him and take their chances with Gobert against Brunson and/or Dinwiddie. In most cases, advantage Jazz.

With Kleber on the court, however, the Jazz’s inability to contain dribble penetration becomes their Achilles heel. With Kleber merely standing in the corner, Brunson and Dinwiddie can blow by their man and force Gobert to make a decision on every play. If he stays home and tries to wall off the rim, the Jazz aren’t able to close out on Maxi in time. If he decides to stay close to Kleber, it's pretty much a layup line at the rim for the Mavs.

On paper, this seems like an easy enough strategy for Kidd and company to implement. In reality, it puts a tremendous amount of strain on those five players. Kleber’s performance has been affected by injuries all year long. Dinwiddie is still recovering from his ACL injury. Asking Dorian Finney-Smith and Bullock to guard dynamic ball-handlers for over 40 minutes a game is a lot to ask.

Vegas is banking on the fact the Mavericks won't be able to keep up that sort of effort over the course of the series. Of course, were Luka to return, everything changes. Until then, there’s little incentive for Vegas to lower Utah’s odds of winning the series by too much.

Advice: Stay away…for now. It would take a mini-miracle for Luka to see the court in Game 3. The series odds are likely to change if Utah goes up 2-1 with a victory with Game 3. Better odds and a possible Luka return in game 4 means the time to strike is coming, but it isn’t now.