Mavericks vs Pistons Picks and Predictions: Cunningham Continues to Help Pistons Shine

Dallas is continuing its ascent up the West standings and can still catch Golden State, but Detroit sure doesn't seem like it'll make that an easy task. Find out why our Mavericks vs. Pistons NBA betting picks are siding with the scrappy underdogs.

Last Updated: Apr 6, 2022 4:09 PM ET Read Time: 4 min
Cade Cunningham Detroit Pistons NBA
Photo By - USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Pistons can try to keep playing spoiler as they welcome the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday night. 

Although long-eliminated from playoff contention, Detroit's put up a spirited late-season run, with results that have confounded sportsbooks and bettors alike. 

Find out if the underdog is once again worth backing here as we break down our Mavericks vs. Pistons NBA picks and predictions for April 6.

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Mavericks vs Pistons odds

This odds widget represents the best odds available for each betting market from regulated sportsbooks.

Dallas opened this game as a 9.5-point favorite at most outlets, with Pistons money quickly sinking that to -8.5 as of Wednesday morning. The total has barely budged, opening at 220.5 and remaining there for the most part, with a few books dangling 221.

Use the live odds widget above to track any future line movements right until tip-off and be sure to check out the full NBA odds before betting to ensure you get the best number.

Mavericks vs Pistons predictions

Predictions made on 4/6/2022 at 9:00 a.m. ET.
Click on each prediction to jump to the full analysis.

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Mavericks vs Pistons game info

Location: Little Caesars Arena, Detroit, MI
Date: Thursday, April 6, 2022
Tip-off: 7:00 p.m. ET
TV: Bally Sports

Mavericks vs Pistons betting preview

Key injuries

Mavericks: Tim Hardaway Jr. SF (Out), Maxi Kleber C (Out).
Pistons: Jerami Grant SF (Out), Hamidou Diallo SG (Out), Cory Joseph PG (Out), Marvin Bagley III PF (Out), Kelly Olynyk F/C (Out), Rodney McGruder G (Out).
Find our latest NBA injury reports.

Betting trend to know

Pistons are 10-1 ATS in their last 11 games vs. a team with a winning straight-up record. Find more NBA betting trends for Mavericks vs. Pistons.

Mavericks vs Pistons picks and predictions

Our side and total predictions are based upon our analysis of the line and total in this game. Our best bet is our favorite pick across all markets.

Spread analysis

Any guesses who the best against the spread team in the NBA has been over the past six weeks?

Well, since you probably (correctly) deduced that it's one of these two, we'll kill the suspense. The Pistons are a ridiculous 18-4 ATS since February 16, which is fairly astonishing given that they should be heavily incentivized to tank and maximize their lottery equity.

Regardless of the self-sabotage, Detroit has made it fairly clear it intends to compete down the stretch, so we're not going to see the home side randomly roll over tonight, even against a good team like Dallas.

The Mavs have steadily climbed the West playoff bracket, currently in fourth and a game back of Golden State for the 3-seed. They've done this mostly through very good team defense (credit to Jason Kidd where it's due), the emergence of Jalen Brunson, the acquisition of Spencer Dinwiddie, and Luka Doncic going absolutely ballistic for the past two months or so. 

The Mavs slow games to a crawl (dead last in NBA in pace) and let their Top-10 defense strangle as much life as possible from the opposition, keeping the games low-scoring and the margins slim, such that Doncic can keep the team afloat on offense by himself most nights. 

And while that's a logical strategy for Dallas' roster makeup, it's not ideal when trying to cover a large spread, particularly against a Detroit team that's been punching above its weight since the All-Star break.

As mentioned above, the Pistons are busting books left, right, and center. In their past 21 games, they would have failed to cover tonight's spread (+8.5) just twice. Both of those games came against the Celtics, who have, by several metrics, been the best team in the entire league over the second half of the season.

Cade Cunningham's been playing (by far) his best ball of the season, scoring in greater volume at a far more efficient clip (22.9 ppg on 48% shooting in March, versus. 15.9 on 39% in February and 17.3 on 42% in January).

He's definitely turned a corner in his development, and that's not only given him more confidence, but opened things up for guys like Saddiq Bey (who's proving himself a bucket-getter in his own right), Killian Hayes, and most recently, Frank Jackson, with defenses now keying on Cunningham instead of letting him make, literal, rookie mistakes. 

Jerami Grant's absence might ostensibly hurt the Pistons here, but they're 5-0 ATS since he went down. Even without their leading scorer, they have options to test poor defensive teams, and Dallas isn't exactly in great form right now, ranking 20th in D-rating over the past 10 games, while the Pistons are busting ass, ranking fifth over the same sample.

These teams are startlingly similar ATS on the season, even given the splits (Dallas is 23-17 as the away team, Detroit is 22-16-1 at home), but we think the Pistons are playing more above expectation right now, and that the Mavs' style of play favors a closer game. 

It's tougher to pull away from a worse team when you're limiting the pace of the game, especially when that team refuses to go quietly. We'd back Dallas on the moneyline, but this spread is too wide. 

Prediction: Detroit +8.5 (-110 at bet365)

Over/Under analysis

The Pistons have opened up a bit, ranking eighth in the NBA in pace over the past 10 games, compared to a league-average speed the rest of the season. 

Despite this, Detroit still scores just the 19th-most points per game (113.5) over that sample, thanks to a No. 22-ranked offense that, as mentioned above, still had its leading scorer for half of those games. 

So, we've got a team that scores disproportionately low, even at a fast pace, and are now extrapolating that makeup into the defense-first, glacial-paced slog of Dallas Mavericks basketball.

The Mavs are the more experienced, disciplined, and generally better team. They'll be the ones to control tempo here, and we're unlikely to see the pace accelerate from either side, with the Pistons having to work hard for their looks and Dallas totally content with its M.O.

Season-long, these teams only combine to score 212.0 ppg, and while scoring has generally risen league-wide in the season's second half (and fairly dramatically, at that), these are two squads that can definitely enable each other in a slow-paced, low-scoring bout.

Prediction: Under 220.5 (-110 at DraftKings)

Best bet

Player prop markets are in short supply for this matchup, with no Pistons props on the books and slim pickings for Mavericks players, to boot. 

But we can make the most of the limited selection by targeting Dwight Powell's points market, set tonight at 11.5 O/U. He's 6-2 against this total in his past eight games, averaging 13.88 points in that span. 

And in still-injured Maxi Kleber's absence against Milwaukee, Powell played 31 minutes (his most in weeks) and erupted for 22 points. 

While this game figures to be slow-paced, Powell should fare well against Detroit's 22nd-ranked points in the paint defense, even in a slower-paced game, and can benefit from pick-and-roll looks if the Pistons sell out on Doncic.

Pick: Dwight Powell Over 11.5 points (-125)

NBA parlays

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