76ers vs. Mavericks Odds
||7:30 p.m. ET
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The Sixers are starting to figure some things out. They sit third in the Eastern Conference by a comfortable three games but have four games to make up if they want to grab the No. 2 seed heading into the playoffs.
Dallas is just trying to avoid the play-in tournament at this point, and that should be well within reason. The Mavericks are just a half-game back of the Warriors and Clippers, who sit fifth and sixth in the West, respectively.
This will be a huge game for Dallas, but does it mean it’s worth laying the points? Let’s get into some predictions in our 76ers vs. Mavericks preview.
The Sixers were without Joel Embiid in a 119-96 win over the Heat on Wednesday, and as is often the case with the big man, it’s anyone’s guess as to his status for Thursday.
The team is taking its time to release its injury report, and it’s entirely possible we won’t know until game time, which is when Embiid was scratched for the Miami game.
With that in mind, the real lineup news we should be talking about here has less to do with Embiid and more to do with his replacement. Doc Rivers decided to start Tyrese Maxey in his place against Miami, only to watch his young guard score 27 points in 38 minutes on 10-of-17 shooting from the field.
He was clearly the reason Philly competed so hard without Embiid, and it was a welcomed sight considering Maxey hasn’t started since Jan. 21.
The Sixers are 14-9 straight up with Maxey in the starting lineup this season and have won nine of the last 11 games in which he’s started.
It seems abundantly clear at this point that he should be starting, but the issue is often how he’s going to find a way into the lineup. He’d have to replace De’Anthony Melton if Embiid is going to play, and Rivers has been reluctant to shake up his rotation. With that said, he did bench a slumping Georges Niang in favor of Danuel House, so perhaps he’s open to experimenting.
Whatever the case, Maxey needs to play a heavy dose of minutes in this game. That should be a reasonable ask given his performance against Miami, and if Embiid is still dealing with a sore left foot, we’ll surely see him start and play for 35-plus minutes once again.
The Mavericks’ injury report, conversely, isn’t much of a discussion. Davis Bertans remains out with a left calf strain, but other than that, they’re playing at full strength here.
With that, we can talk some shop about this team at the moment. Dallas is still trying to find its footing in the wake of the Kyrie Irving trade, losing five of its last six games. The Mavericks have been favored in all but one of those losses, and they’re coming off some disheartening losses to the Lakers and Pacers as 4.5-point and 8.5-point favorites, respectively.
So, what’s gone wrong? Well, in those last six games, the Mavericks are fifth in offensive efficiency; Irving, Luka Doncic, and Christian Wood have had no issues making this ship go on that end of the floor.
Dallas’ struggle has come defensively, where it’s 26th with 120.2 points allowed per 100 possessions over the last six games.
While your natural inclination might be to blame the new guy, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Not only did Irving play solid defense with the Nets this season, but the Mavs also have a 115 Defensive Rating with him on the floor to this point and have allowed 119.1 points per 100 possessions without him.
Wood has been one of the biggest issues, recording a 122.9 Defensive Rating over this six-game slide. The Mavericks went 4-4 as he sat out with an injury last month and are 4-5 since his return. They’ve now gone 5-10 in their last 15 games with Wood in the lineup.
Dallas is hurting big-time on the defensive end, and I don’t expect things to change here against a Sixers team that has picked it up offensively over the last couple of weeks.
On top of that, I think I feel good about them either way here. If Embiid plays, he should continue to expose this weak interior defense. If he doesn’t, it should give Maxey another chance to shine.
I’d obviously try to wait until we get Embiid injury news here. I don’t expect this line to move drastically if he does play but certainly would expect a decent shift toward the Mavericks if he’s ruled out.
With that, I’d take the points here but would stop at four.
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