Despite a tense final couple of minutes in Milwaukee, the Mavericks picked up an enormous win on Monday, their first game playing without injured Luka Doncic (ankle). Kristaps Porzingis took the reins as many Mavs hoped he would and finished with 26 points and 12 rebounds, shooting 9-for-19 from the floor and 4-for-8 from the 3-point line. Two guys who needed to bump up their production—Jalen Brunson and Seth Curry—did in a big way. Brunson had 13 points and 11 assists while Curry was a flamethrower, scoring 26 points on 9-for-15 shooting.
The Celtics, meanwhile, are coming off a pair of tough losses, dropping a home game to Philadelphia by six points and a road game to Indiana by five. They had chances in both, down one point with 26 seconds to play against the Sixers and had a 10-point fourth-quarter lead on the Pacers. Keep those losses in mind when thinking about this one—the Celtics started the year 4-0 in games decided by two possessions or fewer, but are 1-6 since. Boston also will be down both Marcus Smart (eye) and Robert Williams (hip) in this game.
Another factor to consider here: The Celtics have not played since last Thursday, a rare five-day, in-season break. In the NBA, though, that’s not quite the overwhelming advantage you’d expect. Teams with three or more days off this year are 30-28 SU.
Celtics vs. Mavericks Preview
The Mavericks have the highest rated offense in the league, at 116.6 points per 100 possessions and though Boston has the 10th-rated defense, the Mavs managed to put up 120 on Milwaukee, the NBA’s top defense.
The key player here probably is Tim Hardaway Jr., because Dallas can’t expect the same output from Curry again. Hardaway was 1-for-10 for six points against Milwaukee and if his recent pattern of great/terrible game continues, he’s due for a great one. Hardaway had 28 on 11-for-22 shooting before the Milwaukee game, and two points on 1-for-6 shooting before that. Four games ago, Hardaway went for 29 points on 10-for-13 shooting.
The Celtics have plenty of firepower offensively, with Kemba Walker, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Gordon Hayward. Overall, they’re sixth in NBA offensive efficiency, at 110.9. But the offense has stagnated lately. In their last 13 games, the Celtics are just 15th in offensive efficiency (109.3). They haven’t quite clicked, and they’re 7-6 in that span.
Still, after the elating win in Milwaukee, the aftershocks of losing Doncic are expected to settle in on Dallas. The line has been moving in the Celtics’ favor, from 1.0 point to 2.5 now on Fanduel. The sharps don’t seem to have much faith in the Mavs’ ability to match what they did Monday.
Ah, but we do. The Celtics have been in a fog and haven’t been good in close games. A lengthy rest is not likely to change that. Look for a big Hardaway game and a Mavs win.
Celtics vs. Mavericks Pick & Prediction
PICK: Mavericks, +2.5 points
UNDER: 218.5 points
SCORE PREDICTION: Mavericks 109, Celtics 106