Welcome to the Monday, Dec. 31, 2018, edition of the NBA Best Bets column. Here, I’ll strive to identify one NBA bet for tonight I feel has profit potential at DraftKings Sportsbook, FanDuel Sportsbook, 888 Sportsbook, and BetStars Sportsbook.
Depending on the circumstance, I’ll hone in on moneylines, point spreads, or projected totals. Sometimes I may even touch on multiple metrics. Then, I’ll take you on a fairly deep dive as to why.
Please note we’ll be referencing only legal, regulated sportsbook betting odds and totals here at PlayPicks. A “pick” is a wager that, as of the time of this writing, we feel confident recommending. A “lean” is a wager we favor over the other side. This play could end up on our card with the release of additional information.
Season to Date:
ATS Picks: 20-13 (.606)
ATS Leans: 7-7-1 (.500)
Moneyline: 12-5 (.706)
Over/Under: 8-3 (.727)
12/31/18 NBA Betting Pick:
Dallas Mavericks (17-18) vs. Oklahoma City Thunder (22-13)
Over/Under Total: 223.5
There’s always an element of unpredictability when teams play each other in home-and-home sets. That uncertainty is amplified slightly when the games occur on back-to-back nights. Such is the New Year’s Eve scenario for the Mavericks and Thunder.
The two clubs staged an entertaining battle Sunday night in Dallas, one in which the Mavs prevailed 105-103. That marked the second win in as many tries for Dallas versus OKC this season. They also notched a 111-96 victory Nov. 10 at American Airlines Center.
Monday night’s game unfolds on the Thunder’s home court of Chesapeake Energy Arena, where OKC has dropped only four games this season. One of those defeats was notably in their most recent game there, when the Timberwolves clipped them by a 114-112 margin. However, it’s worth noting that many of their home opponents thus far have been less than formidable. The Thunder have toppled the likes of the Bulls, the Suns, the Hawks, the Cavaliers, the Knicks, and the inconsistent Jazz at home by double-digit margins.
But when they’ve run into some tougher competition, the scores have been less lopsided, or OKC has actually come up short. In addition to the aforementioned defeat at the hands of Minnesota, the Thunder have dropped decisions to the Kings, Celtics, and Nuggets on their home floor.
Then, their home wins over the Hornets, Pelicans, and Clippers were by less than Monday’s elevated spread. And naturally, it bears mentioning again that they’ve yet to solve the Mavs this season, although both games game on the road.
For its part, Dallas has found the road a very unfriendly place. However, even though their away record now reads an unsightly 2-15, they’ve come tantalizing close to victory on multiple occasions recently. Dallas has lost its last five road tilts by a combined 21 points. Those games came against an impressive array of opponents: the Pelicans, Warriors, Trail Blazers, Clippers, and Nuggets.
The Mavs’ offense hasn’t had any trouble putting up points in those contests, either — they’ve scored between 112 and 121. That success has enabled them to keep all of those margins of defeat at or under Monday’s eight-point number.
Finally, the recent play of Mavs rookie Luka Doncic and the sizable impact he’s having on keeping Dallas in most games regardless of their poor defense can’t be overstated. The 19-year-old phenom has taken his game to a new level in the latter portion of December. He’ll come into Monday’s contest having scored between 21 and 34 points in seven of his last eight games. He’s drained a whopping 11 of his last 21 three-point attempts over the last pair of contests as well, including four in Sunday’s win over OKC.
His efforts have been complemented by strong work from the rest of the team’s starting five. And the Dallas bench, already solid with the likes of Dwight Powell, J.J. Barea, and Devin Harris, recently picked up another scorer when Dirk Nowitzki made his season debut. The second unit’s efforts have also been key in keeping the Mavs offense working when the starters have needed a breather.
By the Numbers
The Mavericks are an NBA-best 22-13 (62.9 percent) against the spread overall this season. That includes a 7-6 mark (53.8 percent) against the number as a road underdog. Dallas is also 9-7 (56.2 percent) versus the spread after a win and 15-10 (60.0 percent) against the number in conference games.
The Thunder are 8-7 (53.3 percent) against the spread as home favorites and 2-3 (40.0 percent) versus the number when playing on the second game of a back-to-back. OKC is also 5-7 (41.7 percent) against the number after a loss and 11-12 (47.8 percent) versus the spread in conference games.
The Final Word
The Mavs have proven they know how to get the best of the Thunder on two occasions already. We’re not predicting that to happen a third time Monday, but they definitely have enough in the tank to come in under a significantly elevated number.
The back-to-back should take an equal toll on both clubs, and Dallas’ track record versus the spread this season is unsurpassed in the NBA. Their propensity for keeping recent road games extremely close only furthers their case.
The Pick: Mavericks +8