It’s a quick edition of game notes today, but we should pay our respects to the New York Knicks' win streak. After ripping off nine consecutive wins and 13 straight covers, the Knickerbockers were felled by the Phoenix Suns on Monday night. Devin Booker dropped 33 points, but Chris Paul was the talk of the town with a ridiculous dagger in the waning minute that gave the Suns the win.
While we mourn the loss of that streak, we celebrate the Suns, who are now just one game behind the Utah Jazz for the top overall seed in the Western Conference. Phoenix has games against the Los Angeles Clippers and Jazz coming up, which means this week will be massive for those tracking the seeding race in the West.
Updated odds for every game can be found here.
Updated injury reports for every game can be found here.
*Indicates team is on the second leg of a back-to-back.
The Main Event
Dallas Mavericks* (-1, 227.5) at Golden State Warriors
Thanks to the new play-in tournament format, this game now holds a tremendous amount of weight. Golden State sits just 2.5 games behind Dallas for the sixth seed in the Western Conference, and the Mavericks are trying to solidify their standing outside of the play-in seeds. If Dallas wants to keep itself above that line, the Mavs will need to put together a better defensive effort than the ones bettors have seen recently.
The Mavericks are just 2-7 ATS in their last nine games and over that stretch they have the 27th-ranked defense in the league (117.6). Because of that defensive play, the Mavericks have been outscored by 2.7 points every 100 possessions over this nine-game stretch, and now that defense will have to deal with the hottest player in the league: Steph Curry.
Curry has been downright dominant over his last 14 games, averaging 37.6 points on 52.3% shooting. His scoring has been the only consistent form of offense for Golden State, which still ranks 18th in offensive efficiency over that 14-game run for Curry! The Warriors lack shot creation behind Curry and that is extremely apparent in that efficiency rating. Is Dallas’ defense poor enough that they will fail to defend an inefficient offense like the Warriors’ when Curry is resting?
The injury report is key here, as Dallas is dealing with a bunch of issues. J.J. Redick, Maxi Kleber, Josh Richardson and Kristaps Porzingis are all dealing some sort of injury that has them as potentially questionable. The Mavericks did not submit a morning injury report, so monitor that afternoon update closely.
The Co-Main Event
Milwaukee Bucks (-9, 220.5) at Charlotte Hornets
Milwaukee is coming off of a loss to Atlanta in which its defensive shortcomings were on full display in the fourth quarter. The Hawks closed their win over the Bucks by scoring 41 points, and averaging 1.577 points per possession with eight 3-point makes. Six of Milwaukee’s last seven opponents have shot better than 37% from deep, and that is something this Charlotte team can exploit.
The Hornets have started to find their footing on offense lately, averaging over 1.2 points per possession in their last two contests, both wins. Charlotte has really been successful with its small-ball lineup, using P.J. Washington at center, and the numbers paint a picture of a team that could bother Milwaukee. With Washington at center without Malik Monk, Gordon Hayward and LaMelo Ball, the Hornets are outscoring the opposition by 4.8 points per 100 possessions. They take 49.1% of their attempts from deep with those lineups and hit 41.2% of those shots. They still have some issues on defense, but with their ability to score we should expect a higher scoring affair in Charlotte tonight.
Brooklyn Nets (-6.5, 232.5) at Toronto Raptors*
Kevin Durant is back on the floor and opposing offenses everywhere should be worried. In Durant’s return the Nets dropped 1.333 points per possession on the Suns defense, and now they get to test a Toronto defense that has been improving. Four of the last five Raptors opponents have averaged no more than 1.074 points per possession, and one of those games was against this Nets team; however, Kyrie Irving was flying solo in that win. With Irving and Durant on the floor together without James Harden, Brooklyn outscores opponents by 9.9 points per 100 possessions. Oklahoma City, Orlando and Cleveland make up three of Toronto’s last six opponents, so it's safe to say this is a different type of test for this defense.
Oklahoma City Thunder* at Boston Celtics (-10.5, 215.5)
Oklahoma City has shown the ability to cover inflated numbers and this might be one of them due to the status of Boston’s roster. Jayson Tatum, Kemba Walker and Robert Williams are all out tonight, and in the minute without those three on the floor, the -0.1 net rating for the Celtics shows us how average they are. Lou Dort is going to be back on the floor for the Thunder as well, which means this might be one of the few covers the Thunder can stumble into. However, it is hard to feel comfortable betting on a team that is 0-14 SU/4-10 ATS over the last 14 games with a -20.7 net rating.
Portland Trail Blazers (-4, 226.5) at Indiana Pacers
Are the Trail Blazers going to suddenly find the ability to protect the paint? Portland allows opponents to take 30.6% of their attempts within four feet of the basket and ranks 25th in rim defense by allowing 60.7% on those shots. Statistically, this is a matchup nightmare for them against Indiana. The Pacers are beat up and will play without Myles Turner or Domantas Sabonis, but they are a team that takes 39.9% of their shots at the rim. Portland has dropped five straight and is 2-3 ATS over those five games. Should they be favored on the road even if their opponent is short-handed?