Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 07:30 AM EST. Odds subject to change.
Denver -6½ -110 over Dallas
10:00 PM EST. The spread of this contest isn't out yet at Pinnacle. When it is, we'll update the line.
The reality is, this thing called sports betting is about reading markets and, in support of this wager - anticipating regression. No team is as bad as their worst result or as good as their best. Even more important are scenarios where a good team is due for positive regression and they're facing an "okay" team that's due for negative regression. This is one of those scenarios. It almost doesn't matter what the line is (just kidding, of course it does, but you understand the point of hyperbole, right?), this is a spot that we love for the Denver Nuggets. We love it even more because the fake-news machine is loud and running on fumes in Dallas. Let's talk about Denver's opponent first.
The Dallas Mavericks are the only undefeated team left in the Western Conference. Booted out of the postseason just a few months ago at the end of their last campaign, Mark Cuban's boys seem to have hit a new stride. The Mavericks know who their star is; it's the 6'7" white dude from Slovenia who's been playing professional basketball before he got over puberty. He's been on fire through the Mavs' first four games, averaging 34 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists, and shooting 42% from beyond the arc. In truth, Luka is the one x-factor that could flip our wager upside down.
Dallas is also benefiting from new surrounding talent. Derrick Lively II, the rookie phenom from Duke, is already showing he can hang in the pros. In two games where Dallas HC Jason Kidd let him play over 30 minutes, he's scored 23 points, snagged 23 rebounds, and had a few blocks and steals to go along with it. He's 7'1," long and rangey, and already showing great basketball IQ on both sides of the court. Grant Williams, the versatile, fiery small-forward who helped Boston go deep into the Eastern Conference playoffs, is fitting in splendidly. Already he's improving Dallas' back-court defense, and in their last W (a sleepy game at home vs. Chicago), he put the team on his back and led the Mavs with 25 points. He's also been an ace from the perimeter, shooting 16-29 (55%) from deep.
Overnight the new-look Mavs are clearly in better form, but there's plenty of reasons to believe it won't last. That starts with Kyrie Irving. "Uncle Drew" is still one of the most skilled basketball players in the world, but he's gotten weirder, and weirder, and he's not always focused on the game that pays him so handsomely. Last season the lack of chemistry was painfully evident between Luka and Irving, who Dallas acquired in a trade last spring. Irving is getting in the way more than helping his team lately, and he hasn't played the last two games. In the two games he did play, he could barely hit a three-pointer (2-12), and he's still taking too many shots (41 in two contests, a rate that's higher than Luka's average). The Mavericks won both games when Kyrie was in the lineup, but they were both too close for comfort against squads that aren't forecasted to make the playoffs (SAS, BKN). He might play Friday and we certainly hope he does. Whether he does or not, this is still a Mavericks' squad with many new parts, and Friday presents a massive road-challenge.
All the Mavericks' momentum won't mean diddly squat on Friday. The Nuggets are off a loss, their first of the season, and it came in embarrassing fashion to their divisional rival. Minnesota walloped Denver 110-89 in a game where every one of Denver's starters were in double-digit negative point-differentials. The champs looked pristine up until Wednesday, but that's just how the modern NBA is. We won't see any franchise chasing a "perfect record" like the Lakers or Warriors of recent season's past, but that doesn't mean Denver isn't looking for payback Friday night.
In any case, we love that Denver is back home and remaining at home until the following Sunday (Nov 12). Last season, following a loss, the Nuggets were 20-13 (60.6%) against the spread (ATS). They were also 57.5% ATS as a home favorite. And let's face it - who have the Mavericks faced? They beat the Spurs (who are going through an experimental year with Wembanyama), the Nets (an assembly of B- players), the Grizzlies (yikes, the worst team in the NBA through five games), and the Bulls (arguably no team in the association has disappointed more often than Chicago the last two seasons). We might pause if Dallas beat up on reputable programs. Instead they're beating bad teams by 9 points per game. Can I get a slow-clap in the back? No? Cool cool.
The Nuggets aren't even on the same planet as Dallas' four opponents. We'd like to wish good luck to 19 year old Derrick Lively II and his matchup against Jokic, and I expect a clinic from Denver at home. Unless we get a 50-burger from Luka, this one might not be close.
Denver -6½ -110 (Risking 2.2 units - To Win: 2.00)