Mavericks vs Pelicans Picks and Predictions: Books Not Adjusting to Wood's Increasing Role

It may be early, but it appears Christian Wood has found himself a home with the Dallas Mavericks. Already seeing a ton of success alongside superstar Luka Doncic, our NBA betting picks are backing him to go Over his 16.5-point total tonight.

Ed Scimia - Betting Analyst at
Ed Scimia • Betting Analyst
Oct 25, 2022 • 12:39 ET • 4 min read
Christian Wood Dallas Mavericks NBA
Photo By - USA TODAY Sports

Two Southwest Division rivals will collide on Tuesday night as the New Orleans Pelicans play host to the Dallas Mavericks.

The Pelicans are coming off of their first defeat of the season, an overtime loss to the Utah Jazz on Sunday. Dallas won its first game of the year on Saturday, beating the Memphis Grizzlies behind standout performances by Luka Doncic and Christian Wood. 

Wood has been a major contributor for the Mavericks since joining them this season. We’ll discuss how he might play into Tuesday night’s game in our NBA betting picks and predictions below.

Mavericks vs Pelicans best odds

Mavericks vs Pelicans picks and predictions

Christian Wood has spent his seven-year NBA career bouncing around the league. The 27-year-old big man has averaged 14.3 points and 7.3 rebounds throughout his career but has still landed on seven different teams since joining the league in 2015. 

Wood finally found sustained success in his two seasons with the Houston Rockets, where he averaged 19.1 points per game. That made him a major trade target for the Mavericks in the offseason, who felt he could be a great compliment to the overworked Luka Doncic in their offense.

That has played out in Wood’s first two games in Dallas. While Wood has played just 49 minutes in total, he has scored 50 points while grabbing 20 rebounds. The Mavericks are using him heavily while he is on the floor: Wood has a 35.3% usage rate, good for fourth in the NBA and second on the Mavs, behind Doncic’s 38.2%.

Having a big man who can score is a huge benefit to Doncic. When Doncic sets up in the half-court offense, he is capable of drawing multiple defenders. Wood can set screens or take part in pick-and-roll plays where both defenders attempt to stay with Doncic, leaving Wood open as he goes to the rim.

This has been an incredibly effective system for the Mavericks in the early going. However, Wood can also create his own offense in isolation, meaning he’s not just limited to playing off Doncic. He has also shown the ability to run the floor to get ahead of plays and score easy points in transition.

In other words, the Mavericks have found a reliable second scoring option that adds balance to the floor by complimenting Doncic’s own strengths. There’s no reason to think Dallas will utilize Wood less going forward, and may in fact increase his minutes to take full advantage of the potency of this combination.

Yet sportsbooks haven’t fully caught on to this trend. Most sites have Wood’s primary Over/Under on points scored set at just 16.5 points. That’s not only well under what he has shown in limited action so far this season, but also under his average for his last two full seasons in Houston. 

We should expect to see a lot more 20+ point nights out of Wood in this Mavericks offense. Let’s back the Over on his point total, taking the best odds we can find at that 16.5 total.

My best bet: Christian Wood Over 16.5 points (-124)

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Mavericks vs Pelicans spread analysis

Dallas opened tonight’s game as a 5.5-point favorite, but that number has dropped to four points as of midday Tuesday. The volatile line may be due to uncertainty over the status of several Pelicans players who suffered injuries in the early going.

New Orleans will be without forward Brandon Ingram, who suffered a concussion in Sunday’s loss to the Jazz. Meanwhile, Zion Williamson is questionable with a bruised hip, which means the Pelicans could be rather shorthanded for Tuesday’s game. 

In their absence, CJ McCollum figures to be the focal point of the New Orleans offense. McCollum scored 28 points against the Jazz and has proven himself as a capable lead scorer, averaging over 20 points a game in each of his past seven full seasons. 

McCollum likely won’t be able to do enough alone to keep up with a Mavericks offense that put up 137 points on Saturday against the Memphis Grizzlies. That means that handicapping for this game is highly dependent on whether or not Williamson can contribute for New Orleans.

With that in mind, I’m staying off the spread and moneyline markets tonight, at least until we have some certainty surrounding Williamson’s status. 

Mavericks vs Pelicans Over/Under analysis

After opening at 221 points, the total on tonight’s game has fallen slightly to 220. While that’s a small move, I suspect it is also due to the fact that the Pelicans are banged up, which should hurt New Orleans at least slightly on the offensive end.

Last year, both of these teams played at a slow pace, with Dallas last in the league at just 98 possessions per game. Each team has pushed the pace a bit more early this season. Dallas still ranks 24th in the NBA at 101.8 possessions per game, while the Pelicans have moved up to fourth in the league (109.4). 

While these numbers are based on minuscule sample sizes, the Mavericks do look as though they are playing a bit faster, and New Orleans has been able to get a fair number of quick scores in the paint through Williamson and Jonas Valanciunas. 

Both teams have been highly efficient on offense — Dallas leads the league with 1.19 points per possession, while New Orleans is fourth at 1.14 — and while it’s too soon to know if those ranks are sustainable, it's another sign that these two teams are stronger offensively than they were last year.

Because of these early trends, I’m backing the Over on tonight’s game. The Pelicans have played well over 120 points in each of their three games, and the Mavericks are no longer a team that will slow down the game so much to allow this game to hit the Under.

Mavericks vs Pelicans betting trend to know

The Over is 5-0 in the Pelicans’ last five home games. Find more NBA betting trends for Mavericks vs. Pelicans.

Mavericks vs Pelicans game info

Location: Smoothie King Center, New Orleans, LA
Date: Tuesday, October 25, 2022
Tip-off: 7:30 p.m. ET

Mavericks vs Pelicans key injuries

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