March Madness may be the main event on Friday, but we’ve also got a sizable 10-game NBA slate on tap. So, if betting on college hoops isn’t your cup of tea, perhaps we can interest you in some pro basketball instead.
Moneyline Betting Odds
|Portland Trail Blazers||+135|
Spread Betting Odds
|Portland Trail Blazers||+3 -105|
|Dallas Mavericks||-3 -115|
Over/Under Betting Odds
|Portland Trail Blazers||O 227 -105|
|Dallas Mavericks||U 227 -115|
One of the better games on the schedule takes place on the west coast. The Portland Trail Blazers, fresh off of a two-game sweep over the New Orleans Pelicans earlier this week, will play host to the Dallas Mavericks. Portland enters this game at 24-16 on the year and sixth in the West, while Dallas is 21-18 and in the last playoff spot. The Blazers are 6-4 over their last 10 games, while the Mavs are 7-3 in the same span.
Portland played last night, while Dallas was last in action on Wednesday. The Mavericks are actually 3.5-point road favorites here in a game with an over/under of 227 points.
Can Portland Stop Luka?
Damian Lillard has gotten himself into the MVP conversation this season. Dame has been nothing short of remarkable in helping the Blazers stay afloat in spite of long-term injuries to CJ McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic. McCollum finally returned earlier this week, but Nurkic is still on the shelf. Regardless, Portland looks like a near-lock to make the playoffs at this point.
Lillard has been phenomenal. The game’s most clutch player is averaging 30.6 points per game this season, which ranks second in the league to Bradley Beal. Lillard put 50 points on the board in Tuesday’s thrilling come-from-behind victory over New Orleans. He was unstoppable again last night, as he shot 54.5 percent from the field on his way to 36 points in an easy win over that same Pelicans squad.
Damian Lillard dropped a 50-piece tonight
— Hoop Central (@TheHoopCentral) March 17, 2021
Dame is great, but the Blazers have struggled to get stops this season. The Blazers enter tonight’s game with a defensive rating of 114.2, which is the second-worst mark in basketball. Only the Kings have been worse defensively. Portland did play well on that end last night in holding the Pels to just 93 points, but that was the first time since February 9 that the Blazers accomplished the feat.
Luka Doncic started the season in a sluggish fashion, but he has really rounded into form ever since. Doncic scored 42 points in Wednesday’s win over the Clippers, and he’s now up to 28.5 points, 9.3 assists, and 8.4 boards per game on the year. He has found success in this exact matchup already, too. Luka scored 44 points on incredible 14-for-20 shooting in a 121-118 defeat at the hands of the Trail Blazers back on Valentine’s Day.
Mavs’ Hot Run
The Mavericks were a trendy pick to challenge for one of the top spots in the Western Conference this season. While that hasn’t come to fruition thanks to inconsistent play and a rash of injuries and health-related absences, Dallas is clearly trending in the right direction. The Mavs have won seven of their last 10 games, and six of their last seven. The only loss in that span was a 10-point defeat at home to the Clippers back on Monday.
While Dallas is clinging to the last playoff spot in the conference as of now, it’s pretty safe to assume this team will be playoff-bound. Most expect the Mavs to finish higher than eighth by the time the season is over with. In fact, the Mavs are now at -150 to make the playoffs, which is unusual for a team barely in a playoff position as of now.
Luka Doncic has already dropped:
42 PTS – 6 REB – 9 AST – 57% FG
43 PTS – 17 REB – 13 AST – 58% FG
42 PTS – 7 REB – 9 AST – 62% FG
38 PTS – 9 REB – 9 AST – 54% FG
36 PTS – 10 REB – 9 AST – 46% FG
On the Clippers during his career… matchup nightmare for Kawhi & PG. pic.twitter.com/HhiX5foIvK
— Hilltop Hoops (@HilltopNBA) March 18, 2021
Doncic has been the headliner, but the Mavs have also gotten good contributions out of Kristaps Porzingis, Jalen Brunson, and Tim Hardaway Jr. of late. Porzingis got off to an inauspicious start following offseason knee surgery, but he has turned things around of late. Luka’s co-star is now up to 20.4 points and 8.6 rebounds per game this season, and his defense has come around as he’s gotten more into game shape.
Obviously, Porzingis’ ability to stay healthy will be important for the Mavs’ long-term prospects. That hasn’t been an easy task for the big man over the years. Porzingis has played in just 24 of the Mavs’ 39 games this year, and he hasn’t played more than 66 games in any season since his rookie year. That includes missing all of the 2018-19 season with a torn ACL.
The Blazers don’t really have any size to defend him with, though. Porzingis was held to just 18 points on nine shot attempts the last time these teams met, but Doncic was doing most of the heavy-lifting offensively in that one. Other than Enes Kanter, Portland has almost no size in their rotation. Kanter isn’t a particularly good defender, either. If the Mavs decide to get Porzingis involved offensively, Portland likely won’t have an answer.
What’s the Best Bet?
The fact that the Blazers played just last night plays into the Mavs’ hands. It’s a little surprising to see Dallas favored on the road, but it does make sense. Lillard had to play another 38 minutes in last night’s game. While the All-Star is pretty much indefatigable, this is also the third game in four nights for Portland. All have come at home, but the rest factor still favors the visitors.
Dallas Mavericks -3.5 (-105)
I like the Mavs to cover. Dallas hasn’t been great against-the-spread this season (18-21), but they have successfully covered in six of their last eight games. I don’t think Portland has anyone capable of checking either of the Mavericks’ two stars. Lillard is capable of single-handedly keeping the Blazers in this one, but Dallas still picks up the victory away from home here.
Dallas is fine to win the game outright at -160 on the moneyline, but you get a little more bang for your buck by backing the Mavs to cover the 3.5-point margin at -105.
Taylor Smith has been a staff writer with GamblingSites.org since early 2017. Taylor is primarily a sports writer, though he will occasionally dabble in other things like politics and entertainment betting. His primary specialties are writing about the NBA, Major League Baseball, NFL and domestic and international soccer. Fringe sports like golf and horse racing aren’t exactly his cup of tea, bu …