Mavericks at Pelicans NBA Pick for December 3

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The Pelicans and Mavericks have been two of the also-rans in the Southwest Division for several years now. Dallas has missed the playoffs in each of the last 3 seasons, while the Pelicans have missed out in 3 of the last 5. Both finished near the bottom of the Western Conference a season ago.

However, both teams seem to be on the rise. That’s unquestionably true of the Mavericks, who are off to a hot 13-6 start that includes a demolition of the mighty Lakers in Los Angeles over the weekend. The Pelicans have gotten off to a more ragged 6-14 start, but there’s reason for optimism in New Orleans. Brandon Ingram is looking like a star, and it’s only a matter of time until Zion Williamson, the new face of the franchise, makes his debut.

Williamson obviously won’t be on the floor when the Mavs come to town on Tuesday, which is a shame. It would be pretty thrilling to see a couple of the league’s most promising young stars go toe-to-toe, but we’ll have to wait for our first meeting between Zion and Luka Doncic.

MyBookie has the Mavericks as 4-point favorites on the road in the Big Easy tonight in a game featuring a 233 implied total. That total is the highest of the 7 games on the NBA schedule for Tuesday night.

Betting Data Mavericks Pelicans
2019 Straight-Up 13-6 6-14
2019 Home 6-4 4-6
2019 Away 7-2 2-8
2019 ATS 11-8-0 9-11-0
2019 ATS Home 4-6-0 6-4-0
2019 ATS Away 7-2-0 3-7-0
2019 O/U 13-6-0 10-10-0
2019 O/U Home 6-4-0 4-6-0
2019 O/U Away 7-2-0 6-4-0

Luka Magic

At this point, it’s hard to suggest that Doncic shouldn’t be the favorite to win the NBA’s MVP award this season. The 20-year-old has taken the league by storm in just his second season. All Luka has done through his first 19 games of the campaign is average 30.6 points, 9.9 rebounds and 9.6 assists per game while helping his team massively exceed preseason expectations.

Doncic is third in scoring, 15th in rebounding and second in assists so far. He also ranks second in the league in player efficiency rating, trailing only reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo. Basketball is different than other sports in that one great player can lift a team to new heights, and that’s exactly what’s happening with Luka in Dallas.

Dallas has won 7 of 8 overall, and Doncic has already enjoyed success at the Pelicans’ expense this season. In the Mavs’ 123-116 win over the Pelicans in late October, Luka put up a 25-point, 10-rebound, 10-assist triple-double. That has become something of a habit for him, considering he’s nearly averaging a triple-double and he has posted a league-high 7 of them already this season. LeBron James (5) is the only other player with more than 3 triple-doubles on the year.

Luka has helped the Mavericks to the league’s best offense so far. Dallas is scoring 113.6 points per 100 possessions, which would be among the best marks in the history of the league if they’re able to keep it up over the course of the entire season.

The Mavs should have little issue putting the ball in the bucket against a Pelicans defense that ranks 24th in efficiency. New Orleans is coughing up 110.5 points per 100 possessions. Dallas isn’t much better in that regard, though, ranking 19th.

Ingram’s Development

The biggest story of the Pelicans’ season so far has been the play of Ingram. While it hasn’t necessarily translated to as many wins as the Pelicans would have liked, the fact that Ingram is looking like a star sure does improve the prospects of the offseason’s Anthony Davis trade. The Pels nabbed Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart and a first-round pick in addition to Ingram.

The Duke product is averaging 25.5 points, 7.4 rebounds and 4 assists per game through his first 16 appearances in a Pelicans uniform. That’s quite the leap considering he averaged just over 18 points per game last season with the Lakers. He is also shooting nearly 42 percent from 3-point range on nearly 6 attempts per game, which blows past his previous career-high for efficiency.

It should be interesting to see how Ingram meshes with Zion, but there’s no reason to believe the two can’t coexist in the same offense. Williamson was averaging better than 23 points per game in the preseason, though, so Ingram’s scoring average will likely take a hit. Still, the Pelicans seem to have a pair of young franchise cornerstones on their hands, which isn’t something many teams can say these days.

One thing the New Orleans Pelicans have done exceptionally well this season is make 3-pointers. New Orleans ranks fourth in the league in 3-point shooting at 38.3 percent. They shot 44.7 percent in a losing effort against Oklahoma City over the weekend. They’re connecting on 43.3 percent of their triples in wins and 36.4 percent in their defeats.

The Pick

I like the number on the Mavericks quite a bit here. I’m inclined to buy into the notion that this is one of the best teams in the league at this point, even if before the season I wasn’t overly optimistic about their chances of making the playoffs in the Western Conference. Doncic is on a different planet right now, and nobody has shown the capacity to slow him down defensively.

Until that happens, I’m just going to keep believing in the Mavs. The 4-point spread here is a bit too small for a team that has played offense at such a high level in the early going. Dallas has also enjoyed plenty of success away from home. The Mavericks are 7-2 so far this season away from American Airlines Center, which is among the best marks in the NBA.

I like the Mavericks to cover the 4-point spread and take care of business in New Orleans on Tuesday night.
Taylor Smith

Taylor Smith has been a staff writer with since early 2017. Taylor is primarily a sports writer, though he will occasionally dabble in other things like politics and entertainment betting. His primary specialties are writing about the NBA, Major League Baseball, NFL and domestic and international soccer. Fringe sports like golf and horse racing aren’t exactly his cup of tea, bu ...

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