Injuries have led to three straight losses for the Dallas Mavericks (16-12), who host the San Antonio Spurs (4-23) Saturday on the second night of back-to-back games. Both the Spurs and the Mavs are among the worst defensive teams in the league, so under normal circumstances, we’d be seriously looking at the game total and several stars’ scoring props. But the Mavs missing pieces, combined with questionable tags applied to Kyrie Irving and Dereck Lively II on the team’s injury report and outside reports indicating that Luka Dončić is more likely to be back in action, make deciding what to bet on here a little murky.
Fixture: San Antonio Spurs at Dallas Mavericks | NBA 2023-24
Date & Time: Saturday, December 23, 2023; 7:30 PM CST
Venue: American Airlines Center, Dallas, TX
- Spread: Dallas -8 (-110)
- O/U: 240
- Mavs Moneyline: -325
These odds are up to date as of 12:30 p.m. DCT from DraftKings.
As of this writing, it’s unclear whether Irving and Lively will suit up, so it’s smart to look at this matchup without them and hope that Santa brings them to Mavs fans for Christmas. We have to assume Dončić will be back to bearing the heavy burden on offense.
Or, hey, here’s an idea. In a game as uncertain as this one, consider staying away entirely. If Dončić goes, his scoring and the open looks he generates for his teammates should be enough to beat a team as bad as San Antonio, but the return on betting the Mavs on the moneyline is next to nothing, so we can’t advise that and feel great about it. A sneaky play might be the under, as the San Antonio defense has improved to 15th in the NBA (up from 27th) in the seven games since moving Malaki Branham to the starting five and bringing Zach Collins off the bench. Whatever you do here, use maximum caution.
- Devin Vassell over 18.5 points
- Luka Dončić to score the game’s first field goal (+475)
- Grant Williams under 9.5 points
Vassell’s number is right at his 18.3 point-per-game season average, but he’s exactly the kind of player the Mavs’ defense has rolled out the red carpet for all season. He scored 23 in the teams’ first meeting of the year on Oct. 25.
Are we crazy for tossing out this Dončić prop? Perhaps. But he’ll be eager to attack after missing the last game and with the Mavs riding a three-game losing streak. Why not put a 1⁄2 unit on it? Are we gambling? Or are we gambling?
Grant Williams hasn’t hit this mark in five games, and he’s just been bad on offense since the first seven games of the season, shooting just over 34 percent from the floor in that time. We’re not seeing any signs that he’s coming out of this or rounding a corner. When you see value, take it!
Play of the day
- Victor Wembanyama over 11.5 rebounds
Wemby has hit this mark in six of his last eight games, and the only reason he didn’t on Thursday against the Bulls was because it was a blowout late. He is not on the Spurs’ injury report at all after missing Tuesday’s game with ankle soreness and playing just 22 minutes in Thursday’s blowout loss.
Especially if Lively continues to sit, this seems like one that should hit, barring the kind of foul trouble that plagued Wemby in the teams’ first matchup.