The Pick: Mavericks 112-102
Let me be clear; I don’t love either one of these teams for the long term, but I think there is a little more validity to what we have seen from the Mavericks through two weeks than what we’ve seen out of the Wizards. Both offenses rank in the top six in scoring while both defenses rank in the bottom five in scoring, so if you’re a basketball purist that wants to teach your kids how to properly defend the pick and roll or how to grind out a defensive possession for the entirety of the shot clock, look elsewhere. But if you want a chance to win a bet, watch Monta Ellis thrive in this style of game.
The Mavs’ gunner has established himself as the alpha male on this Dallas team when it comes to taking shots (averages four more FGA than Dirk Nowitzki and leads all players averaging at least eight shots per game in FG percentage), and this is the exact type of contest that plays to his strengths. Washington’s defense is allowing opponents to shoot 48.5 percent from the field this season (highest in the league) on over 84 field goal attempts per night (ninth most FGA against). Believe it or not, the Mavericks have been the fourth most efficient offense in the NBA, and betting against a hot Ellis is simply dangerous.
Bradley Beal is smoking hot right now (24-for-43 and nine three pointers made for 63 points over the last two games), but the team’s shooting percentage scares me (their 44.3 percent ranks them in the bottom half of the league) because the Mavericks are an average defense when it comes to FGA against (78 shots against per game). In other words, the Wizards count on quantity of looks to get their 105 points a night, while the Mavericks are reasonably successful (by their standards at least) at limiting their opponents’ attempts. The inefficient style of John Wall, streaky shooting of Trevor Ariza/Beal, and the lack of backcourt depth give the Wizards an offense that I simply don’t trust against another team that can fill it up.
Dallas relies heavily on an elderly bunch of players (Nowitzki, Shawn Marion, Vince Carter, and Jose Calderon average almost 117 minutes per game), but they haven’t played since Saturday and should be well rested for what figures to be a shootout at home. When it comes down to it, I like Ellis to lead this game in points scored, and with the Mavericks 3-0 when they have the top scorer and the Wizards 0-2 when they don’t, my money is on the home team to pull away late.
My pick is a direct result from the numbers we’ve seen produced so far. The Mavericks are 3-0 at home this season with an average score of 117.3 to 104. The Wizards are 1-3 on the road with an average score of 101.8 to 107.