The Dallas Mavericks enter Friday night’s clash with the Toronto Raptors on a bit of a hot streak. They had an ugly hiccup a couple of games ago, but they’ve still come out winners in eight of their last nine games as they make their push to avoid the play-in tournament. The Toronto Raptors already made their push to avoid the play-in but they had a bit of a different idea on how to go about doing that.
Free Picks: Dallas Mavericks vs. Toronto Raptors
Luka, Mavs Look To Avoid Play-In With Win Over Raps Friday (Season Betting Record: 98-106)
While the Dallas Mavericks are looking to avoid the play-in by winning games to finish in fifth or sixth, the Raptors decided they didn’t care for any of it this season. Instead, they decided to dodge the inaugural Eastern Conference play-in tournament by finishing below the threshold, as the brass stepped in and decided to rest their top guys often enough over the final few weeks to get fined by the league.
The Raps have likely finagled their way into a slightly higher draft pick, but it’s truly pitiful stuff to see. The Raptors will once again be without the core four of Fred VanVleet, OG Anunoby, Kyle Lowry, and Pascal Siakam on Friday night in Dallas, the second game in as many nights for the Raptors’ nine-man reserve platoon that is getting all of the run.
The Mavs, on the other hand, come into this one on quite a hot streak. Apart from a 30-point whooping handed to them by the Grizzlies two games ago, the Mavericks have been nearly perfect in recent weeks as they attempt to consolidate their position ahead of the injury-plagued seventh-place Los Angeles Lakers.
An encouraging sign for the Mavericks is that their best player, Luka Doncic, bounced back very nicely from an ugly two-game span that saw him score 27 combined points on 33 percent shooting from the field and an 0-for-6 mark from downtown. The 22-year-old didn’t let that dip in shooting faze him, and he came back in Dallas’ next and most recent outing on Wednesday and dropped 33 points on 50 percent shooting from the field.
The biggest swing came in his long distance shooting, however: the young Slovenian went 7-for-15 from beyond the arc, falling just one triple short of his single-game career high of eight, which he set a couple of months ago in March.
That three-point shot had been the only thing really lagging for Doncic, the only hitch in an otherwise perfect offensive game. This year, he’s made huge strides in that department as he’s averaged less three-point attempts (8.3 vs. 8.9 in 2020), while draining more (3.0 vs. 2.8) at a much higher efficiency (35.5 vs. 31.6).
While these Raptors reserves have been very energetic, they have not been able to get results lately, dropping three straight games by double-digit deficits. While we would love to waste another NBA pick on a scrappy team of misfits that is looking to play spoiler to teams in more fortunate positions in the standings, it just doesn’t seem prudent.
Even Chris Boucher was not allowed to participate on Thursday night, picking up a DNP-CD in Toronto’s 114-102 loss to the Chicago Bulls. We wouldn’t imagine that the strategy with the Canadian kid would be different on Friday night, so there’s another strike against the Raps. Oh, and exciting G-League promotee Yuta Watanabe is unsure to play after picking up an actual injury on Thursday night.
Listen, any spread above 10 points is always a bit of a nail-biter, but the oddsmakers aren’t giving us much of a choice here. The Raptors are not playing any of their—arguably—top six players, so you can expect the same thing to happen against the Mavs that has happened against the Clippers, Grizzlies, and Bulls.
We like the Mavericks to cover a whopping -12.5 NBA point spread at solid -127 NBA odds on Friday night as one of our top picks against one of the most sorry excuses for a competitive NBA team we have seen in some time. If that wasn’t clear, that’s a shot at you Masai Ujiri, as well as the rest of Toronto’s front office. Do better.
- Toronto is 5-10 ATS playing on no rest this season
- Dallas is 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games against Eastern Conference teams
- Toronto is 7-10 ATS playing with a rest disadvantage this season
- Toronto has lost in 8 of their past 10 outings
More NBA Free Pickssee more
The Golden State Warriors will host the Memphis Grizzlies in the final play-in game, which will determine the Western Conference’s eighth seed.
The Washington Wizards will host the Indiana Pacers on Thursday night with the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference on the line.
LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers will host Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors in a play-in clash on Wednesday night at Staples.
The Memphis Grizzlies will host the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday in the No. 9 vs. No. 10 contest as part of the West’s play-in tournament.
Alex is an alumnus of Ryerson University's RTA Sport Media program, a contributing NHL, NBA, and MLB writer in the BetPicks.ca team. He has been writing on sports, betting, and fantasy contests for several years, including pitstops as an NFL Editor for theScore and as one of the lead NBA news writers for fantasy sports site FantasyPros. As a lifelong athlete, bettor, and sports fan, Alex is uniquely qualified to help you reach the sports betting success that you've always dreamed of and your wife never believed you could achieve.