While the Philadelphia 76ers are just about locked into their playoff spot at No. 3 in the East, the Dallas Mavericks are currently on the outside-looking-in, sitting at No. 11 in the West and increasingly needing to worry this Kyrie Irving experiment may be shockingly short-lived. Will that desperation be enough to spur the Mavs to an upset on the road?
Here are our free NBA picks and predictions for the Mavericks vs. 76ers on March 29.
Mavericks vs 76ers best odds
Mavericks vs 76ers picks and predictions
By no means has Dallas been stellar defensively since acquiring Kyrie Irving in early February, but ranking No. 21 in the league in team defensive rating, per statmuse, is not a sign of absolute terror. Three playoff teams rank worse.
In fact, the Mavericks’ ranking compared to the rest of the league has improved since they brought in Irving, ranking No. 24 up until Feb. 7. That said, their actual rating has fallen to 118.9 with Irving on the roster from 116.3 before he arrived. The entire league has gotten worse defensively, it would seem.
There are two Philadelphia-focused reasons to doubt James Harden will score 23 points tonight. First of all, the star guard averaged just 15.8 points in six games before he missed the last four with Achilles worries. He was still playing plenty, exceeding 39 minutes in four of those games, including a 46 minute showing against Chicago on March 20, in which Harden scored five points.
Maybe it was the Achilles, maybe it was something else. Regardless, Harden was far from rhythm before he was sidelined, and a week on the bench probably did not help him immediately find his shooting stroke.
For that matter, it went beyond Harden’s shooting. The world’s most legendary foul merchant took five or fewer free throws in four of those games before his break. In that Chicago marathon, he took one.
The thought of deferring to Joel Embiid may have added weight tonight, two days after the MVP candidate was sidelined by his own injury concerns. Undoubtedly, Embiid wants to reclaim his standing in the MVP race and do so emphatically.
It is not like the Mavericks' roster has anyone to match up against Embiid. They at least have Tim Hardaway Jr., Reggie Bullock, and Josh Green to throw at Harden.
Maxi Kleber is not a defensive concern for Embiid, while Christian Wood and Dwight Powell’s minutes have fallen off since the Irving acquisition as Jason Kidd has searched for the appropriate rotation, a search in vain thus far.
If Embiid has a mismatch tonight while Harden tries to find his legs after an injury-demanded absence, then expecting Harden to suddenly find his aggressive scoring touch may be a foolish thought.
My best bet: James Harden Under 22.5 points (-115)
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Mavericks vs 76ers spread analysis
This spread has moved along with Dallas’ desperation, opening with Philadelphia favored by as many as 5.5 points on Tuesday afternoon before falling to -4.5 or even -4.0 on Wednesday morning. Some of that may be doubt about Harden’s health, but the narrative would look at the Mavericks’ absolute need to win tonight.
That cannot be overstated. Of the five teams Dallas is competing against to land in the Western Conference play-in — and one of those teams will end up in the West’s Top 6 — the Mavericks have the second-toughest remaining schedule, behind only the Pelicans.
Dallas’ next five games are all against teams heading to the postseason, and ending the year against the Spurs may be too late for the Mavericks’ playoff hopes.
And yet, Dallas is a multiple-bucket underdog tonight. Even when needing a win, bookmakers refuse to consider that the Mavericks might. There may be value in running counter to the narrative and grabbing Philadelphia as only a 4-point favorite.
Mavericks vs 76ers Over/Under analysis
This total ticked upward to 232 or 232.5 after opening at 231.0 early Wednesday morning, odd considering both these teams have skewed toward the Under of late. Four of Philadelphia’s last five games have gone Under their totals, and five of Dallas’ last six games have done so, as well.
Neither of these teams is all that solid defensively — the 76ers rank No. 13 in team defensive rating since the trade deadline — meaning a track meet could develop quickly.
Then again, if doubting Harden’s buckets and worried about what version of Kyrie Irving will show up tonight, an Under thought would correlate.
Mavericks vs 76ers betting trend to know
The Under is 4-0 in the Mavericks last four road games. Find more NBA betting trends for Mavericks vs. 76ers.
Mavericks vs 76ers game info
|Location:||Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, PA|
|Date:||Wednesday, March 29, 2023|
|Tip-off:||7:30 p.m. ET|