Not even the greatest skeptics of the Kyrie Irving trade could have predicted that things would unravel this fast for the Dallas Mavericks. Since the trade that united Irving with Slovenian superstar Luka Doncic, the Mavericks are a pitiful 6-9, having just lost two straight to one of the league’s worst teams in the Hornets.
They’re now on the outside looking in of the play-in tournament, with a real possibility that just a year after making the Western Conference Finals, Doncic & Co. may not play postseason basketball at all.
Adding insult to injury, Luka picked up his 16th technical foul of the season during yesterday’s loss to the Hornets, and as such, will be suspended for today’s game against the Indiana Pacers, who are still in the play-in hunt themselves.
Our NBA picks and predictions for Mavericks vs. Pacers are betting on Irving’s steady ball control, who despite the chaos in Dallas, has been an on-court rock for the Mavs since the trade.
Editor's note: This article was written prior to the news of Luka Doncic's technical foul being rescinded, which makes him eligible to play tonight.
Mavericks vs Pacers best odds
Mavericks vs Pacers picks and predictions
There will be a lot of ink spilled on this Dallas Mavericks team if pairing Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving together ultimately sees them miss the playoffs entirely, but the critical thing to note is that if they do fail to make the playoffs (or even the play-in) it will not have been Irving's fault.
The team has failed to meet expectations no doubt, but the failings rest on the front office and coaching front, not the players themselves, and certainly not Kyrie. The Mavericks made the mistake of going all-in halfway, gambling the future of their franchise on the Irving-Doncic tandem but stopping short of using their remaining draft equity to build a functional ecosystem around them.
And yet despite all the turmoil, Kyrie has played as well or better than anyone could have reasonably expected him to. Over 15 games now, Irving is averaging 27 points, 5.9 assists, and 5.3 rebounds on 62.6% true shooting. In the four games he’s played without Doncic, his production rises and his efficiency has actually improved. While the team has struggled, Irving has more than held up his end of the bargain.
And it’s also something Irving isn’t doing that’s made a massive impact on Dallas as well: he’s not turning the ball over. Irving’s 9.1 turnover percentage is by far the lowest of any point guard who has played meaningful minutes this NBA season and is absurdly low for a player who has the ball in his hands as much as he does.
It’s well established that Kyrie’s best-in-the-game handles allow him to thrive as an interior scorer and break down opposing defenses, but it also allows him to protect the ball better than any guard in the Association.
The Pacers personnel don’t seem particularly well disposed to force Kyrie into mistakes either. While TJ McConnell is a solid defender and defensive playmaker, he’s seeing sporadic minutes as Indiana leans into the youth movement down the stretch. Tyrese Haliburton is a wonderful offensive player, but a turnstile of the highest order on defense. The same goes for Bennedict Mathurin, the impetuous Canadian rookie, who has the tools but not the experience to bother Irving.
Kyrie has averaged a hair over two turnovers per game during his Mavericks tenure and has had two or fewer turnovers in five straight games now. Even in the games he’s played without Luka, the numbers hold steady.
At a pick‘em price, I’m banking on Irving’s ball control on Monday night.
My best bet: Kyrie Irving Under 2.5 turnovers (-110)
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Mavericks vs Pacers spread analysis
This line has seen significant movement from +2.5 to as much as -1.5 Indiana at some books.
That could be an indicator that NBA odds are bullish about Haliburton’s status for Monday’s game. Haliburton is officially questionable with ankle soreness having recently missed six straight games, but he’s been back for the Pacers' last two games against Boston and Atlanta.
The Pacers could surely use him, as they’re just 1-4 against the spread in their last five. They have shown some resiliency, however, going 5-2 ATS in their last seven games following an ATS loss.
That’s pretty competent compared to the current tire fire emanating from the American Airlines Center. Dallas is all kinds of struggling right now, and the rest disadvantage does them no favors. The Mavericks are 0-4 in their last four games played on zero days of rest.
As an organization, the Pacers are not traditionally inclined to lean fully into tanking, at least while they’re technically within shouting distance of the play-in race. That said, there is always a risk this time of year for roster shenanigans.
So while I think a full-strength Pacers team has a good chance to cover against a reeling and Luka-less Mavericks squad on a road back-to-back, I just can’t justify the bet with the level of uncertainty surrounding both Haliburton and Myles Turner’s status.
Mavericks vs Pacers Over/Under analysis
Probably the most significant factor in determining the appropriateness of this total is the status of Turner. He's one of a few Pacers players having a career season, in large part due to a substantial offensive boost now that he’s no longer sharing a crowded frontcourt with Domantas Sabonis.
However, Turner’s primary value remains in what he provides on the other side of the ball. Indiana is one of the worst defenses in the NBA, but Turner at least provides All-Defense caliber rim protection when he’s in the game. He also moves his feet pretty well and should have no problem hanging with either of the Mavericks' stretch-five options in Christian Wood and Maxi Kleber.
That is if he plays. Like Haliburton, the Pacers have designated Turner as questionable, and in his case, I’m less inclined to think he suits up.
For one thing, he missed the previous Pacers game on Saturday against Atlanta, and with him being a bit older than Haliburton, locked into a new extension, and with a shakier history of on-court health, I would not be surprised if Turner is shelved for the season soon and possibly misses Monday’s game. The Over is 5-0 in the Pacers' last five games at home, and if Turner sits, that strongly favors another.
For the Mavericks, their defensive woes are well established. Like most teams, they defend even more erratically when dealing with fatigue, which has seen the Over go 12-3 in their last 15 games played on zero days of rest.
They’re small and get killed inside and on the boards. Without Luka, they’ll also play faster and a higher pace leads to more scoring. I’d lean toward the Over at 229.5.
Mavericks vs Pacers betting trend to know
The Mavericks are 0-4 ATS in their last four games playing on zero days' rest. Find more NBA betting trends for Mavericks vs. Pacers.
Mavericks vs Pacers game info
|Location:||Gainbridge Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, IN|
|Date:||Monday, March 27, 2023|
|Tip-off:||7:00 p.m. ET|