Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#571 Boston Celtics -2.5 vs.
#572 Dallas Mavericks 225.5
Tuesday, February 23, 2021 at 7:35pm EST
American Airlines Center, Dallas
Written by Roberto Arguello

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The Celtics face the Mavericks for the first time this season when they meet in Dallas on Tuesday night. The Celtics have now lost four of their last six games after dropping their most recent contest 120-115 to the Pelicans in overtime on Sunday. The Mavericks returned from an eight-day layoff on Monday in a 102-92 win over the Grizzlies after the icepocalypse in Texas kept them from playing last week.

Celtics Need an Efficient Secondary Scorer

If the Celtics win, they will need players other than Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum to step up. Brown and Tatum are playing at All-Star level with quality play on both sides of the court thanks to their tremendous athleticism, length, and shooting.

The Celtics are still waiting for Kemba Walker to get back into form after dealing with lingering knee injuries that sidelined him for the first month of this season. Walker ranks in just the 32nd percentile among point guards as he is scoring 102.4 points per 100 possessions, per Cleaning The Glass. The Celtics’ bench has gotten exposed as Gordon Heyward carried them last season, but they don’t have any playmakers in that unit anymore (rookie Payton Pritchard has been the lone bright spot). Marcus Smart also remains out with a calf injury which has hurt them on both sides of the ball.

With Smart out, the Celtics will need an efficient secondary scorer to emerge against the Mavericks among Kemba Walker, Semi Ojeleye, Payton Pritchard, and Daniel Theis. Theis should have a more favorable matchup than normal against this Mavericks frontcourt. He has quietly been efficient this season as he is making 39% of his threes, and his 128.7 points per 100 shot attempts rank in the 79th percentile among bigs.

Can Porzingis and the Mavs Help Doncic?

If the Mavericks win, they will need someone to step up on offense alongside their three consistent scorers this season: Luka Doncic, Jalen Brunson, and Tim Hardaway Jr.

Doncic has done it all offensively by racking up points, rebounds, and assists while Brunson and THJ have provided consistent and efficient scoring off the bench. While Doncic had a relatively quiet night in Monday’s win (his streak of scoring 25+ points was snapped after scoring just 21), Brunson and THJ combined for 48 points in the blowout. Brunson’s efficiency this season has been impressive as his 126.0 points per 100 shot attempts rank in the 90th percentile among NBA combo guards (per Cleaning The Glass).

While the Mavericks won on Monday, they, unfortunately, lost Maxi Kleber in the fourth quarter with an ankle injury, and he is listed as day-to-day. The Mavericks hadn’t played in eight days before Monday, but Kristaps Porzingis was a late scratch due to lower back soreness. With Porzingis not playing back-to-backs, the Mavericks likely held him out of the Grizzlies game so that he would be available against the Celtics. At least one of Josh Richardson, Dorian Finney-Smith, or Prozingis/Kleber will need to step up for the Mavericks to beat the Celtics.

Best Bets for this Game

Full-Game Side Bet

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Both of these teams have performed poorly against the spread lately, but Luka Doncic will prove to be the difference. Doncic had a relatively down night by his standards on Monday, and I expect him to bounce back against the Celtics on Tuesday. Doncic should benefit from getting Porzingis back as this will help with spacing against the Celtics’ defense. While all three of Brown, Tatum, and Doncic can score at an elite level, Doncic is by far the best distributor among the three, and he will do a better job of getting his inconsistent supporting cast involved than the Celtics’ stars will without Smart.

Prediction: Mavericks -2

Full-Game Total Pick

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Take the over as the Mavericks have scored over 120 points per 100 possessions over the last month with Porzingis in the lineup, but they have also allowed over 120 points per 100 possessions on defense. The Celtics and Mavericks both are teams that play without true rim protectors inside, so this should be a more fast-paced game where each team’s more finesse centers like Theis and Porzingis should avoid foul trouble.

Prediction: Over
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Written By Roberto Arguello , "Roberto Arguello"

Roberto is a college basketball and NBA sports betting analyst. Prior to joining our team at Winners & Whiners he broadcasted for PGA TOUR LIVE and was the voice of Stanford Football on KZSU 90.1 FM. His sports betting articles have been featured on Sporting News, The Action Network, and BetQL. Roberto enjoys long romantic walks through the fairways and fullback handoffs.