Dallas Mavericks vs. Denver Nuggets Preview and Pick

Dallas Mavericks (45-26) +9, 216 at Denver Nuggets (43-28), 8 pm Eastern
Thursday, TNT

One team trying to hang on to a playoff spot without its best player meets
another team trying to sneak into the post-season when the Dirk Nowitzki-less
Dallas Mavericks visit the Denver Nuggets in the opener of an NBA/TNT double-header
Thursday night.

NBA books list Denver as a nine-point home favorite for Thursday’s game,
with a total of 216. The Nuggets are also posted at around -430 on various
Vegas moneylines, with Dallas getting +340 as road underdogs.

These two teams are fighting, along with the Golden State Warriors, for
the last two Western Conference playoff slots. The Mavericks are in seventh
place in the West standings, a game and a half up on eighth-place Golden
State and two ahead of ninth-place Denver. The Nuggets are just a half-game
back of the Warriors, and must feel they’ve got an excellent chance to catch
them and even Dallas, which will be without Nowitzki (24 points, nine rebounds
per game this season) for the foreseeable future after he sprained an ankle
in a loss to San Antonio Sunday.

The Mavs had lost three games in a row but beat the Clippers Tuesday 103-90.
Meanwhile, Denver has won three straight after beating Memphis Monday 120-106.


These two teams have split two games already this season, and Thursday’s
game is the last time they’ll meet. So not only does this game already have
big playoff implications, it’s also the decider in any potential head-to-head

The Nuggets beat Dallas 122-90 back on Dec. 6 of this season, and the Mavericks
knocked off a Carmelo Anthony-less Denver 90-85 Jan. 27. Both those games
were played in Dallas, and Nowitzki scored 32 points in both games.

Last season, the Mavs took three of four games from the Nuggets. So over
the course of the last six games in the series between these two teams,
Dallas is 4-2 straight up and 3-3 against the spread. Also, the o/u is 2-4
in those last six meetings, which have averaged a surprisingly low 189 total
points, well below Thursday’s total.

This season, Dallas is 30-37 against the spread, and 15-19 both straight
up and vs. the numbers on the road. Meanwhile, Denver is 39-32 ATS this
season, a sparkling 28-7 SU and 22-13 vs. the numbers at home.

Statistically speaking, the Mavericks rank 7th in the league in scoring
differential at +4.7 per game, Denver 11th at +3.9.

Dallas is shooting 46% from the field this season, 35% from 3-point range
and a league-best 81% from the free-throw line. On the other end of the
court, the Nuggets are shooting 47% from the floor, 36% from long range
and 76% from the line.

Also, the Mavs rank 4th in the league in FG defense at 44%, Denver 11th
at 45.5%. And while the Mavs rank 4th in rebounding at +3.2 per game, the
Nugs rank 21st at -1.2 per game.

The Sagarin PREDICTOR ratings at USAToday.com ranks Dallas 7th at 94.9,
Denver 11th at 93.2. Sagarin’s current NBA home-court advantage figure is

The o/u is 34-34 in Mavs games this season, which are averaging 195 total
points, while the totals are 40-30 in Nuggets games, which are averaging
215 points.

Zman’s Pick: We think Dallas gets blown out tonight. Lay the points with the Nuggets.