Pelicans vs Mavericks Picks and Predictions: Pels Continue to Slide

The Pelicans are reeling, and stuck on a weird travel schedule against a rested Luka Doncic is not the get-right spot they were looking for. See why our NBA picks see the Mavericks cruising Thursday night.

Last Updated: Feb 2, 2023 2:33 PM ET Read Time: 4 min
Luka Doncic NBA
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The New Orleans Pelicans matchup with the Dallas Mavericks scheduled for Thursday, February 2 has already been fraught with drama and the game doesn’t tip off until 8:30 pm EST. Not to do with any basketball-related reason mind you, but that the icy conditions in Dallas prevented the Pels from flying into town yesterday. Rather than consider postponing the NBA has taken the unusual step of booking the Pelicans to travel and play on the very same day. 

Our NBA picks and predictions for Pelicans vs. Mavericks believe the rest disadvantage will prove too much for a struggling New Orleans to overcome.

Pelicans vs Mavericks best odds

Pelicans vs Mavericks picks and predictions

The New Orleans Pelicans are in total freefall. This team was once leading the Western Conference standings but has now lost nine straight games in an increasingly dispiriting fashion. 

This is the worst-case scenario of what some predicted for this Pelicans season. A team that is overflowing with ball-dominant players, but lacking overall cohesion, where the offense adds up to much less than its constituent parts. The Pelicans have been the NBA’s worst offense over the last eight games, and by a wide margin, they’re almost three points worse than the second-worst Charlotte Hornets in that same span. 

And far from keeping afloat defensively, they’ve also played at the level of a Bottom-10 defense in the past two weeks. The struggles on offense have drained them of their previous verve for the defensive end. They’ve lost each of their previous four games by at least nine points. Unsurprisingly then, they’re underperforming the spread by a massive 9.2 points in their last eight games per Cleaning the Glass.

The return of Brandon Ingram has done nothing to slow the Pelicans’ skid either — he looks totally out of sorts with his own play and the team looks at a loss as to how to fit in around him. In the three games since his return, he’s shooting 29.8% from the field and 13.3% from downtown. It’s completely understandable that he needs time to shake off the rust after such a long absence, but the offensive ecosystem he’s returned to is so unhealthy at the moment they can’t help but demand too much of him too soon.

This team desperately misses Zion Williamson, who does so much to organize their offense and set everyone into manageable and effective roles. But Zion is at least two more weeks away.

That the Pels now have to try and end this losing streak against Luka Doncic — who hasn’t played since Monday — seems almost cruel. The Pels aren’t going to get into Dallas until Thursday morning at the earliest. The rest disadvantage is so significant here that any concerns I have about Dallas’ play are dwarfed by it. I like the Mavs to cover on Thursday.

My best bet: Mavericks -4.5 (-108 at Pinnacle)

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Pelicans vs Mavericks spread analysis

It’s hard to convey with numbers and trends just how poorly the Pels have played during this nine-game losing streak, and why, despite Dallas’ own struggles, I’m confident in a Mavs cover. New Orleans is 0-4 in its last four games against the spread, and those lines were set aggressively as the Pels were already five games into their skid at that time. 

They’re 1-5 in their last five road games, and a stunning 5-17 ATS in their previous 22 road games against teams with a winning road record. There were reports that Brandon Ingram was feeling pressured by the Pelicans to return to action sooner than he was comfortable with and everything about how he’s looked in his few games back seems to confirm Ingram has returned too soon.

The Mavericks' record against the spread hasn’t been pretty recently either, including a 1-4 record in their last five at home. But the rest disadvantage is just so massive for the Pelicans here, and Luka has had two full days off to convalesce before tonight’s game. The Mavericks might not have enough weapons right now to beat the best teams, but Luka can still overwhelm a tired, disconnected team like this version of the Pelicans.

Pelicans vs Mavericks Over/Under analysis

226 seems like a small total when you go through both teams' offensive talent. But, it’s a reflection of just how poorly the Pelicans have played over this recent losing stretch, as well as the inevitable fatigue they’ll face due to their rapid travel-to-play turnaround.

Willie Green has continued to favor Larry Nance Jr. over Jonas Valanciunas in the rotation, with Nance now consistently closing games as a defense-first small-ball five. Nance is a solid option to contain Luka on a switch, but with Dyson Daniels out, Herb Jones is the only credible defender for Doncic for most of the game. If Luka baits the second-year player into foul trouble early, the Dallas offense could quickly push this toward the Over.

That’s definitely been the trend for New Orleans of late. Despite its offense plummeting to depths even the Hornets and Rockets haven’t plumbed, the Over is 10-4 in its last 14 road games. It’s also 4-1 in the Pels’ last five against winning teams.

The Mavericks have been trending in the opposite direction, with the Under cashing in five of their last six overall. Largely that’s been a matter of Luka fatiguing in the absence of any complimentary shot creation. With Doncic rested for Thursday’s game, I’m expecting much more from this Dallas offense.

Pelicans vs Mavericks betting trend to know

Pelicans are 0-4 ATS in their last four games overall. Find more NBA betting trends for Pelicans vs. Mavericks.

Pelicans vs Mavericks game info

Location: American Airlines Center, Dallas, TX
Date: Thursday, February 2, 2023
Tip-off: 8:30 p.m. ET
TV: Bally Sports New Orleans, Bally Sports Southwest

Pelicans vs Mavericks key injuries

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