Betting Luka Dončić and a depleted complement can deliver the cover: Mavs -4
After the win at the Nuggets last Wednesday, three Dallas players tested positive for covid-19 and entered quarantine. Dwight Powell is the latest addition to the Mavs list of sidelined players for Wednesday's action at the Hornets. However, Kristaps Porziņģis is likely to make his season debut, after recovering from a torn meniscus suffered during the last playoffs.
We're backing the shorthanded Mavs, as we estimate Dallas still has sufficient advantages over Charlotte this afternoon to cover the four points of chalk.
Supporting our play on the road favorites, we note that Dallas is elite at limiting their opposition's ability to convert in transition, allowing only 11 fast break points per game on average. Charlotte relies on the fast break to generate more than 15% of its offense. As the Hornets rank 20th in the League by effective shooting and true shooting percentages, difficulty scoring on the break is likely to translate to offensive struggles broadly.
Further Charlotte is not particularly proficient defending the longball, ranking below average in percentage of points allowed from deep. On the other hand, Dallas makes a decent living beyond the arc, chipping in 37% of aggregate scoring this season from range (good for 7th in the NBA by this measure). Thus, if Dallas can hit shots tonight, there is a good possibility the Mavs can run the score up from the three-point line.
But beyond fundamental mismatches such as those described previously, we also like that Dallas will have the best player on the floor. Luka Dončić, a bonafide NBA superstar, has the ability to will a team to a victory. One metric FiveThirtyEight uses to quantify player value is forecast wins above replacement (WAR). The following chart shows FiveThirtyEight WAR estimates for Doncic, minus this same measure for Charlotte's Gordon Hayward. This approach makes Luka worth almost eight more wins this season than the Hornets' best player.
History too appears aligned with Dallas' effort this afternoon. In the past, bad teams in this spot have demonstrated a rather consistent propensity to revert to their old selves (at least temporarily) after a successful home stand.
Teams on at least three-game win streaks and at least three-game home stands, after missing last year's playoffs, have proven solid fades facing prior playoff contenders from different divisions.
This system has delivered a 23% return in investment since 2005, and has suffered only three losing seasons during this span.
The Hornets have rattled off four straight wins and covers, with the last two unfolding at Spectrum Center. Charlotte will host Dallas this afternoon, triggering a play on the Mavs, per this approach.
A different history-based system, predicated on exploiting the virtue of rejuvenation, likewise favors Dallas Wednesday.
After the NBA season gets going in earnest, teams that made an appearance in the last playoffs and that are traveling after at least four nights off have been great bets facing teams playing on two nights rest.
This system has amassed a 22% ROI since 2005, with only three losing seasons.