The Trail Blazers and Mavericks may look more like a G-League team on Monday night with all of their personnel issues due to COVID-19, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t any value in these NBA odds.
Dallas Mavericks vs. Portland Trail Blazers
Monday, December 27, 2021 – 10:00 PM EST at Moda Center
Who’s In and Who’s Out
The injury reports for these two teams are about as long as any team playing today and with more uncertainty surrounding the status of Damian Lillard, it’s basically impossible to bet this spread right now.
Lillard missed five straight games earlier this month but has since returned to play the last six for Portland. He has been on fire too, dropping an average of 31.7 points during that stretch. However, Lillard is listed as questionable for Monday’s game with a personal issue.
While we all hope that everything is ok with Lillard and his family during this holiday season, it would be very helpful to our NBA picks here if he were to sit this one out.
Without him, Anfernee Simons would need to pick up a ton of slack and with Jusuf Nurkić entering protocols and C.J. McCollum not ready to come back, the Blazers would be extremely thin if Lillard has to miss this game.
On the other side, the Mavs are still dealing with Luka Dončić being out, as well as Reggie Bullock and Tim Hardaway Jr. However, Jalen Brunson has been more than an adequate (dare I say as good or better) fill-in for Dončić while he is out and on top of all this, the Mavs’ defense has been playing really well without Luka on the court.
According to Basketball Reference’s on/off splits, the Mavs are more than six points per 100 possessions better on defense when Dončić is off the court. During these last seven games that Doncic has been on the sidelines, the Mavs rank 7th in the league in defense, allowing just 107.4 points per 100 possessions.
The Sharp Pick
The top-rated sportsbooks also realize the conundrum they are facing with Lillard being questionable, so they have yet to release many NBA odds for this game outside of the full-game spread and total.
However, considering the Blazers’ struggles lately with injury and COVID, and considering they currently sit outside of playoff contention in an already below-average Western Conference, we have an opportunity here to bet the under, assuming that Lillard doesn’t play.
The game is at home for Portland, so we may not know until later in the afternoon or evening if Lillard will play, but considering the Blazers may be better off selling at the trade deadline than buying, there is little incentive for Lillard to play this game if he is mentally unable to, or has other obligations outside of playing basketball.
If Lillard sits, the under automatically becomes the best play and it’s the one I’m firing at here. On top of the full-game total, I will also be firing at the Blazers’ team total under. To be honest, I would have already if the books were hanging them this morning.
Without Lillard and McCollum for that five-game stretch earlier this season, the Blazers averaged just 98.8 points per game and that was with 110 points against the Pistons at home and 117 in a loss to a banged-up Celtics team.
Now faced against a team playing their best defense of the season, if Lillard doesn’t play, the Blazers’ team total will have a ton of value, as will the full-game under.
*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.