Mavericks vs. Timberwolves Game 5 NBA Best Bet: Can Luka Lead a Comeback?

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NBA Pick: Mavericks +4.5 (-103) at BetOnline (visit our BetOnline Review)

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Mavericks +4.5 (-103)
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The top sportsbooks have released their odds for Game 5 between Dallas and Minnesota, so let’s dive into the current NBA odds at the top sportsbooks to find the best value.

For your best bets, I will recommend investing in the Mavericks.

Don’t forget to check out our YouTube channel for more betting advice! Today, our expert covered this game with an alternative betting angle.

Dallas Mavericks vs. Minnesota Timberwolves

Thursday, May 30, 2024 – 08:30 PM ET at Target Center

Dereck Lively’s Absence

Minnesota won Game 4 by five points. Media reports about the game emphasize the absence of Dallas center Dereck Lively.

Lively, who was out with a neck strain, might return for Game 5, but should we care if he does?

Lively’s Importance Is Overstated

To be clear, I don’t want to deny that Lively is valuable to the Mavericks. On defense, he helps prevent dribble penetration and otherwise secure the paint. On offense, he absorbs the attention of opposing help defenders, such that the likes of Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving can enjoy more space in the lane.

I like Dallas to win on Thursday, and his availability in Game 5 would motivate me to increase my wager amount by a good one or two percent. But let’s look at the hard facts and evidence.

While Minnesota did shoot efficiently, this uptick in efficiency was primarily a consequence of Karl-Anthony Towns‘ good game. Being such a talented player and being one who struggled for so many games in a row, Towns was simply due for a good game. The fact that he shot 4-for-5 from behind the arc – which has nothing to do with Lively – suggests that he was simply feeling good on Tuesday.

The key figure for Minnesota’s offense is of course its superstar, Anthony Edwards. Edwards primarily wants to attack the basket, so one would think that he would benefit in a significant way from Lively’s absence if Lively’s absence were so important.

But his field goal percentage was 45.8% in Game 3, and it actually dropped in Game 4 to 44%. Even without Lively, Dallas still does a good job of walling off the paint and otherwise securing the interior.

Minnesota Overperformed in Game 4

Minnesota won by five because it happened to be very efficient from behind the arc – the Timberwolves shot beyond themselves in Game 4, converting 45.8% of their three-pointers.

This is something that cannot be expected to continue, because their year-long three-point shooting percentage is substantially lower.

Luka Doncic Underperformed

Dallas’ key player finally had an off performance in Game 4. Whereas he was thriving earlier in the series from the mid-range, he was rather inefficient in this space, typifying his team’s decline in offensive efficiency that would have transpired in Game 4 even if Lively had played. Luka has had similarly inefficient performances in previous postseason games where Lively has played, indicating again that Lively’s presence is not decisively important.

My main point here is that Luka reliably bounces back from a poor performance. To be exact, Luka had converted below 40% of his field goals four times – twice against the Clippers and twice against the Thunder. When facing the same opponent, he always bounced back against that opponent by, in the following game, converting over 40 or, what is more typical, over 50 percent of his field goal attempts.

Luka is too hard for any defender to stop, especially with Minnesota shifting its top on-ball defender to guard Kyrie. One can’t expect Luka – or Kyrie, for that matter, or even PJ Washington – to miss so many makable shots yet again.

Luka with his step-back ably creates space for himself from behind the arc, but he settled too often in Game 4. His hesitation move and his overall skill set allows him to attack the paint at will, where he’ll pull up for a mid-range shot that he normally does a better job of making or make his way to the rim.

I fully expect Luka to take over Game 5.

The Takeaway

Minnesota in Game 4 shot much better from deep than Dallas, whose shot-making was off, and yet barely won. It is tempting to apply general logic and say that Minnesota won by five in Dallas and should be expected to win by more at home, but the Timberwolves have been worse at home than on the road throughout the postseason. They’ve won two home games combined in the last two rounds.

The main point is that Dallas, with its stout defense and Minnesota’s offensive limitations, meaning Minnesota’s repeated struggle to exceed 105 points in a given game, can remain competitive with or without Lively. A regression to the mean in terms of shooting percentage – and let’s not forget that efficient floor-spacer Maxi Kleber shook his rust off for Dallas in Game 4 – and a stronger game at the very least from Luka will lead to a solid Dallas win.

The Mavericks don’t mind playing on the road in general or in Minnesota, where they’ve won twice already.

As a bonus consideration, in a close game, Minnesota repeatedly does very stupid things. There’s a reason why the Mavericks have won three of four games so far – they are led by veteran stars who help the team be much more composed and much smarter in crunch time.

But the above considerations lead me to believe that Game 5 will be more comfortable for Dallas.

NBA Pick: Mavericks +4.5 (-103) at BetOnline

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Mavericks +4.5 (-103)
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