The Dallas Mavericks (9-4) will meet the Phoenix Suns (10-3) this Wednesday evening on ESPN in a marquee matchup, the first of a two-game series as they will meet again on Friday night. Dallas has won five of its last six games while the Suns are on a nine-game winning streak after that 1-3 start. But what about the NBA odds?
Phoenix (8-5 ATS) is an 8-point favorite over Dallas (5-8 ATS) at BMR’s top-rated sportsbooks. Dallas is 0-4 ATS as an underdog this season, but the spread has never been higher due to superstar Luka Doncic sitting out of this game with injuries to his left ankle and knee that he suffered late in Dallas’ last win. Can the Mavericks play a respectable game to cover his absence?
Dallas Mavericks vs. Phoenix Suns
Wednesday, November 17, 2021 – 10:00 PM EST at Footprint Center
Dallas Without Doncic
Doncic’s absence is obviously a huge deal for the Mavericks, hence the spread being what it is. This season, Dallas is 9-1 when Doncic scores more than 20 points and 0-3 when he does not.
He won’t be scoring a point in this game and that is going to put more pressure on Kristaps Porzingis to carry the team.
After a weak start to the season and a five-game absence to injury, Porzingis has been playing quite well. Over the last five games, he is averaging 23.2 points and 9.0 rebounds while shooting 51.2% from the field. He has scored 61 points over the last two games and will have to be in that territory again to keep the Mavericks in this one.
Despite the good numbers for Porzingis over the last five games, Dallas is still a minus-12 on the scoreboard with Porzingis in the game. In terms of his on-off splits for the season, Dallas is minus-13.6 points in net rating with Porzingis on the court, a bad number. Last season, Dallas was minus-4.8 points in Net Rating with Porzingis.
Looking at last season is important since it’s based on larger sample size. This season, Dallas is shockingly minus-26.8 in net rating with Doncic on the court. Much of that is due to the defensive side of the ball.
The Mavericks have a very good 93.6 defensive rating in the 173 minutes without Doncic compared to a poor 114.1 defensive rating in the 452 minutes with Doncic.
We know Doncic’s scoring production and shooting efficiency are down this year, but these numbers are still surprising. Dallas will likely have to adopt more of a defensive mindset in this game to get by without their star point guard. Jalen Brunson should step into Doncic’s role in the starting lineup. He has a career-high 19.2 PER this season and now has a big opportunity to show that this team is more than just Doncic.
For reference, Dallas was 2-4 in games without Doncic last season, and all four losses were by at least eight points.
How Hot Are the Suns?
If not for the Golden State Warriors (12-2), the Suns would be the hottest team in the NBA this season. Their nine-game win streak ties their longest winning streak last season on their way to losing in the NBA Finals.
This year’s team is getting it done with the same starting five as last year, though center Deandre Ayton did miss six games. The Suns went 6-0 without him and he returned in Monday’s tight win over Minnesota, scoring a season-high 22 points.
But it would be misleading to say that the Suns are playing as great as they did last year. The offense is most notably down, ranked 13th in offensive rating after finishing fifth last season.
Devin Booker’s shooting efficiency and production are down to the lowest levels since he was a 20-year-old in 2016-17. Chris Paul’s average of 14.7 points per game would be the lowest of his career as he is 36 now, but he is still leading the NBA in assists per game (10.2) and steals per game (2.6).
Over the last nine games, Phoenix is No. 10 in offensive rating and No. 2 in defensive rating. The defense is getting the job done, and that is what should power the Suns ahead in this matchup against a Dallas team that only ranks 21st in FG% this season.
The Suns are second in FG% and 10-0 when they outshoot their opponent by more than one percentage point. Dallas has already been outshot by at least 2.8 percentage points in six of its 13 games this season.
Seven of Phoenix’s 10 wins this season have been by more than eight points, but the Suns had a close call in Minnesota on Monday night, winning 99-96. Booker, Ayton, and Chris Paul scored 72 of the team’s 99 points.
Coming back home, I think the bench steps up and the stars continue to play well while Dallas is without its superstar. The Mavericks also shoot 40.1% on the road this season, ranked 29th in the league. I’ll take the Suns to extend their winning streak to 10 games and get the cover for your NBA picks.
*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.