Dallas Mavericks vs. Boston Celtics Pick
Dallas Mavericks (18-19, 23-14 ATS) vs. Boston Celtics (22-15, 19-18 ATS)
When: Friday, January 4th, 2018 – 8:00 pm ET
Where: TD Garden – Boston, MA
By: Kyle Cash, NBA Basketball Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: DAL +5.5/BOS -5.5
Last Night in the NBA
Sometimes, I really hate the Eastern time zone. I wasn’t really planning on staying up for the entire Rockets-Warriors game, but I at least wanted an idea for how I thought it was going to end before calling it a night. Instead, I fell asleep right as the 3rd quarter began, and woke up to an unwritten article (this one), a flurry of texts from fellow NBA lovers imploring me to “wake the eff up,” a James Harden game-winner, the most egregious missed call in NBA history and my first L of the 2019 calendar year.
Something about some guy returning to his former team happened last night as well, but that game was such an embarrassing blowout that we won’t even bother to go into detail. Instead, let’s surge ahead to our premiere match-up of a solid 10-game Friday night slate – Luka and the Mavericks traveling up to Bah-stun to take on the Celtics. Kyrie Irving has already been declared as “out” and bitcoin bookmakers as well as Vegas have since updated their line to favor the C’s by 5.5 points, and we have a total set to 208 points. Time to pick a winner – shall we?
It’s probably (definitely) too early to be throwing out these kinds of comparisons, but Luka’s game may feel a bit familiar to the fine folks up in Massachusetts. With his transcendent passing vision, his lights-out shooting, his genius-level basketball IQ, and his large, doughy white body, Luka harkens back to a certain mustachioed 3-time champion for the Celtics from the ‘80s. It was more fun being a crazy Luka fanatic when he was just a figment of the Euro league’s imagination, but now that he’s second in the West in All-Star votes, it may be time for my hipster brain to hop off the bandwagon. Next target? John Collins from the Atlanta Hawks. Buy up your stock now while you can.
Taking down the Celtics in Boston’s crazy stadium is a tall task, but it’s a bit of an easier proposition without Kyrie ax-murdering everyone in sight. On the season, the Celtics’ are 8 points per 100 possessions better with Kyrie on the floor, and it should be an area to exploit for Dallas. The tricky thing with the Mavericks is that they don’t really have an elite skill. They are a jack-of-all-trades but a master of none, and unless the game is close at the end, then Luka’s clutch gene won’t have to be activated. The best place for us to learn is through their first match-up in November, and it basically came down to solid overall games from everyone on the team, including 20 points and 8 assists off of the bench from the forever-young J.J. Barea. In a game where an X-factor may be the key to keeping it close, let’s hope for another repeat effort from the little guy.
New Year, New Gordon
In their ideal world, the Celtics would have the NBA Finals on their mind. But instead, they’re left wondering if they will ever have their Lineup of Death healthy for more than a few games at a time. Chemistry is far and away the most underrated component of a basketball team, and until the Celtics can get some consistent health to build rapport between guys like Irving, Tatum, Horford and Hayward, we’re going to continue to see these up-and-down stretches out of the East’s elite. While Kyrie’s eye and Horford’s ailments will heal, it may be a tougher task to get Gordon Hayward back to 100% by the playoffs. It’s hard to worry about your second read out of a pick-and-roll action when you’re constantly thinking about whether or not your ankle is going to snap in half again. Good luck with that, Gordo.
Before they get to the playoffs, the Celtics are going to need to exact a little bit of revenge on the Dallas Mavericks. A 113-104 loss to them in November inspired the Celtics to go on an 8-game win streak, and they’ll look to quench their ire with a W in Massachusetts on Friday night. Terry Rozier is a capable back-up for the Irving-less Celtics, but the onus should really be on guys like Gordon Hayward and Jayson Tatum to step into playmaking roles. But as we’ve lamented, Hayward is a shell of himself, and Tatum seems to already be on the Kobe plan a.k.a. don’t try your hardest until the Conference Finals. Dallas is a shockingly good defensive unit (12th in the NBA) and DeAndre Jordan is the type of big, rebounding center that typically gives Al Horford fits. If Jordan can keep the ball alive and give Luka more chances, we may see the Celtics fall to the Mavs yet again.
Tonight’s game is a true Clash of the Titans: the best ATS team in the league (Dallas) versus the 3rd best ATS team as a home favorite (Boston – 11-5 ATS). I’m not usually one to go against Boston in their home arena. I witnessed firsthand just how hostile that crowd can be, particularly in a playoff-type of atmosphere. But Kyrie Irving has been cradling this team like a baby in his arms, and 5.5 points is way too much to give to the Wonderboy Luka Doncic. At the very least, this seems like a game that stays competitive until the final whistle, and the more tired we can get the Mavericks tonight, the worse they’ll do against the Sixers tomorrow. I’m not saying you should throw a little taste on the Mavericks ML, but I’m also not NOT saying that. Either way, take the points and run.
Final Score Prediction: Dallas Mavericks 106 – Boston Celtics 105
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