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All game lines via VSiN NBA Odds page.
Market Report for Wednesday, May 18th
*Lines are opening numbers
Dallas Mavericks at Golden State Warriors (-5.5, 214.5)
Game 1: Series tied 0-0
The Golden State Warriors are back in the conference finals for the first time since 2019 but awaiting them are the upstart Dallas Mavericks and Luka Doncic instead of the oft predicted meeting with the Phoenix Suns. Of these two teams it is Dallas that has served bettors the best, coming into this series with a 9-4 ATS in the postseason and a 7-3 ATS mark since Doncic returned from injury. Meanwhile, the Warriors have struggled to cover numbers consistently, posting a 2-4 ATS mark in their series win over the Grizzlies and a 6-5 ATS record in the postseason overall. Those contrasting ATS records tell us the market has overvalued the once dominant franchise while undervaluing the new kid on the block. We should keep that in mind as we evaluate how this matchup potentially plays out.
Back in the 2015 NBA Finals, the Golden State Warriors ushered in a new era of basketball with the first iteration of their "Death Lineup" when they defeated Cleveland in six games. Most believe that Dallas is here in this series because of their own small-ball lineup, but in reality it is because of their five-out offensive philosophy, dubbed "space-ball" by The Athletic’s John Hollinger. Led by Doncic, the Mavericks have been putting five shooters on the floor and by way of consistent dribble-penetration they have been forcing opponents into rotations and getting great looks as a result.
Dallas has averaged 52.2 drives to the basket per game in this postseason, the second-most of any playoff team, and from those drives come kick-out opportunities. They have averaged 26.5 catch-and-shoot 3-point attempts per game in this postseason as well, and they are shooting 41.3% on those attempts. Getting into the paint and finding open shooters is going to continue to be a priority against Golden State, but that is easier said than done. The Warriors do not play a traditional center like the Mavericks’ previous opponents, and their small-ball lineup in the postseason with Draymond Green at center is + 12.8 per 100 possessions with a 109.1 defensive rating. It is perfectly plausible that Dallas’ offensive efficiency takes a dip in this series without the ability to exploit an opposing center, but Golden State is not the only competent defensive team in this series.
The Mavericks are also here due to their incredible effort on the defensive end of the floor. Dallas held both Utah and Phoenix to 110.6 points per 100 possessions in non-garbage time minutes, but their defense really came on strong over the final five games of their series with the Suns, posting a 102.3 defensive rating. Over the course of those five games, in which they went 4-1 SU and ATS, they forced turnovers on 17.3% of Phoenix’s offensive possessions as well. That ability to force turnovers will play a massive role in this series with Golden State. The Warriors finished the regular season 29th in offensive turnover rate (15.2%) and those issues have carried over into the postseason where 16.1% of their offensive possessions have ended in a turnover. Not only will Golden State have to take better care of the ball in this series, but they will also have to deal with a very skilled defensive backcourt, like the one in Memphis that gave them fits. Dorian Finney-Smith, Reggie Bullock and Frank Ntilikina were incredible in the series against Phoenix, taking turns in limiting Chris Paul’s production and silencing Devin Booker to close out the series. Those three will have their chances to muck up the Warriors’ offense which only put up 108.4 points per 100 possessions against the Grizzlies.
As previously mentioned, I think there is an overwhelming amount of evidence that tells us Golden State has been overvalued by the betting market. They only covered two games in a six-game series victory and they were even outscored by 2.3 points in non-garbage time minutes in that series. This is not the team that won multiple championships. It is a very good team that still has its flaws and is on much more even footing with a team like Dallas which is 16-5 ATS dating back to the regular season and 38-21-1 ATS since the beginning of 2022. Their offense might have to make some adjustments in this series, but I believe in them defensively and I believe that Golden State has been priced too high.
Best Bet Summary
Mavericks (+ 5.5)
Season Record: 97-77-2