Mavericks vs Suns – NBA Pick for January 31st
- Spread: Mavericks -3.5 (-115)
Wednesday gives us 9 games in the NBA, the least-anticipated of which is probably the Mavericks’ visit to Phoenix in the nightcap. These are a couple of clubs battling it out at the bottom of the Western Conference. The Mavs currently own the West’s worst record at 16-35, while the Suns are only a game better at 17-34. Yikes.
Neither team comes into this game in good form, either. The Suns have lost 5 straight, while the Mavs enter the contest losers of 4 consecutive games. Most recently, Phoenix was beaten easily by the Grizzlies, while Dallas lost at home to the Miami Heat.
Both clubs also come into this one a bit banged up. The Mavericks may be without backup guard JJ Barea (questionable), while Devin Booker, Marquese Chriss and Alex Len are each listed as questionable on the Phoenix side. Tyson Chandler, who missed the Memphis game in order to rest, is expected to return to face his former team.
Phoenix’s chances of making this a game seem to hinge entirely on Booker’s availability. The All-Star snub has been electrifying this season, and the Suns have understandably struggled to win games without him. Phoenix is 3-8 in games without Booker so far this season, though it’s worth noting that one of those wins came in Dallas over these Mavericks in December.
If Booker is good to go, the Mavs don’t have anyone capable of slowing him down. On the season, the former Kentucky Wildcat is averaging career-highs of 24.7 points, 4.8 assists and 4.5 rebounds. He’s also shot better than 38 percent from long range to this point, which is another career-best mark.
The Suns are also getting an excellent season out of TJ Warren, who draws very few headlines outside of Phoenix. The 24-year-old NC State product is contributing better than 19 points per game. He’s got a bit of DeMar DeRozan to his game considering he rarely takes shots from beyond the three-point line, but he’s managed to become an efficient scorer in spite of his lack of range.
Josh Jackson, the No. 4 overall pick in last summer’s draft, has looked lost for the majority of the season. However, he has seen an uptick of late. The rook still isn’t shooting the ball well (41 percent), but he has now scored at least 18 points in 3 of his last 4 outings. It seems as though the game is finally starting to slow down for him, and Phoenix will be better off if he proves worth the high draft selection.
The rest of the Suns are a mess. Greg Monroe gives them good minutes, but he rarely cracks the rotation whenever Len and Chandler are both in there. The point guard rotation is in disarray. Tyler Ulis and Isaiah Canaan have been sharing the duties, though recently Booker has been seeing more time at the 1.
The Mavs have lost 7 of 8 overall, with the lone victory in that stretch coming last week over the Washington Wizards. Dirk Nowitzki is still here, but it’s clear at this point that Mark Cuban and co. have finally embraced a rebuild. While Nowitzki still plays at least 20 minutes every night, the future of this team is clearly Dennis Smith Jr and Harrison Barnes.
Both players have enjoyed solid seasons, even if it hasn’t helped the team in the win column. Smith, who turned 20 in November, has understandably struggled defensively as a rookie. On the other end, though, he keeps showing us why the Mavs took him in the lottery last June. January has been arguably his best month yet, as he’s gone for 16.7 points, 6 assists, 3.3 rebounds and a steal per game this month.
Neither of these teams is good, but they’ve been somewhat tough to peg from a betting perspective. The Mavs are 25-25-1 against the spread, while the Suns are 24-25-2. We also have a couple of teams that play contrasting styles. The Suns rank third in the league in pace, while the Mavs are way down there at 27th in the same category. However, one common area between them is defense. They’re both terrible on that end of the floor. Dallas as a team is tied for 20th in points allowed per 100 possessions, and Phoenix is tied for last.
The total here looks a little low. Phoenix should be able to dictate the pace here at home, and the Mavs do have some players capable of keeping up with the tempo. 210 points looks like a low number here. It’s tough to pick a winner between equally inept teams, but we can project with confidence that this game will go over 210 points.
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