It’s not always easy to play a game in the Colorado atmosphere, and that task gets even tougher for the Dallas Mavericks (12-11) playing on the back-to-back after a win over the Suns on Monday night.
Dallas may have preserved their chances for a victory on Tuesday night by absolutely blowing out Phoenix 130-111, which allowed no starter to play over 30 minutes.
These two teams split a two-game set in Dallas earlier this season, with the Mavericks picking up a 127-99 rout but then losing 98-97 two nights later. It should be noted that the Nuggets were missing Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray, and Aaron Gordon for those games but are -4.5 favorites on Tuesday with that trio healthy.
Mavericks Beating Up On Teams
Not only did Dallas beat the Nuggets by 28 earlier this season, but they’ve also picked up blowout wins in their last two. Luka Doncic had 33 points in 29 minutes and the Mavericks’ defense held Devin Booker to just 11 points in Monday’s 19-point win over the Suns, while Doncic had 30 and Tim Hardaway, Jr. 28 in Saturday’s 121-100 win over the Knicks.
It’s no secret what Dallas is going to try and do on Tuesday night, slow down the pace and play good defense. The Mavericks are a top 10 team in the NBA in defensive efficiency while running the slowest tempo in the league.
Denver doesn’t mind a slower pace game; in fact, they might prefer it as they are in the bottom seven in the league in possessions per game. The X-factor here is the Nuggets’ defense which is their weak point as opponents shoot 48.9% from the floor (29th), with Denver having the fifth-worst efficiency on that end of the court.
Nuggets Healthier – Somewhat
The fact that Denver even picked up a split at Dallas back in November is somewhat of a feat considering they were without Jokic and Murray (health and safety protocols) as well as Gordon (non-COVID illness). Bones Hyland had a career-high 29 points to fuel the November 20th win at American Airlines Center, while Michael Porter, Jr. added 14.
Jokic, Murray, and Gordon are all back in the lineup as the Mavericks make their first trip to Denver this season. Dallas is a top-seven team defensively vs. the C position, but they did just give up 19 points and 13 rebounds to Marvin Bagley in a loss to the Pistons last Thursday. Jokic is coming off 32/16/9 on Sunday, but that was still a 15-point loss in New Orleans.
Porter, Jr. (heel) is out Tuesday, while Denver could also be missing Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (wrist) and Jeff Green (knee).
Mavericks at Nuggets Pick
Dallas has played five of its last seven games on the road and will be in a back-to-back situation. They got beaten 124-115 by Milwaukee in their last second leg of a b2b game, but this is a little different situation with the Mavs able to rest some starters in consecutive blowout wins.
The Nuggets are back home, where they are 6-2 on the year, and two recent losses in Atlanta -with no Trae Young (117-109) and New Orleans (121-106) were tough. Dallas is also just 2-8 on the road this season, so stick with the home team.
Pick: Denver -4.5