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The Dallas Mavericks (24-20) will take on the Atlanta Hawks (18-26) on Friday as both teams desperately look to get back to winning ways after falling down the ladder in their respective conferences.
The headline of any Mavericks-Hawks matchup is the battle between Luka Doncic and Trae Young, who were traded for one another on draft night back in 2018. Luka enters the matchup having scored 31 points in six straight games, while Young has not played since last Saturday because of concussion-like symptoms.
Here, we will analyze the betting odds and share our favorite picks for the Mavericks vs. Hawks matchup on Friday.
The Mavs are favored by just 2.5 points. That’s significant since the Hawks are a horrendous 11-33 against the spread, the worst mark in the NBA and one of the worst records ever.
|Over 244.5 (-110)
|Under 244.5 (-110)
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Dallas is one of the more frustrating teams in the association. At its best, it looks like a potential Western Conference Finals contender, but too often it looks like nothing more than a play-in team.
The backcourt pairing of Luka and Kyrie Irving is the best in the league. The two superstars combine to average 58.8 points, 13.6 rebounds, and 14.6 assists, but even that hasn’t been enough to drag the team to better than four games above .500.
The biggest culprit in the Mavs’ failure has frequently been poor defense. The team ranks 21st in points allowed per 100 possessions and is 24th in points in the paint allowed and 28th in opponent fastbreak points.
The Mavericks also don’t have great personnel options. Luka, Kyrie, and Tim Hardaway Jr. provide bursts of scoring, but they don’t have any playmakers in the second unit, and players such as Grant Williams, Derrick Jones Jr., and Dante Exum aren’t playing their role at the level they need to if this team wants to contend for anything in the postseason.
Part of Dallas' defensive struggles have also come on the glass. They’re 29th in rebound rate and 24th in second-chance points allowed as rookie Dereck Lively II seems to be their only reliable asset on the interior.
On the bright side, The Mavs are outstanding in close games (14-5 in games within five points in the final five minutes, eighth in clutch rating). Luka and Kyrie’s abilities off the bounce and the fact the other is usually just one pass away makes them as close to “unguardable” as there is in the league.
The Hawks, meanwhile, are not as impressive as their opponent. Young is having a stellar campaign (26.9 points, 10.8 assists) but has often been let down by his teammates.
Atlanta started the year with one of the best offenses but has fallen down to 14th in points per 100 possessions and is even worse in the clutch. Dejounte Murray could reportedly be on his way out of town ahead of the trade deadline, and nobody else has emerged as a clear 20-point-per-night scorer.
While the offense isn’t the same as before, the defense has been terrible all year. The team is 26th in defensive rating (right between the Indiana Pacers and San Antonio Spurs) and allows opponents to make 38.3% of three-point attempts (26th).
Atlanta, like Dallas, also isn’t great on the boards, ranking 19th in rebound percentage. Part of that is due to their personnel, but part of it is due to their lack of aggressiveness.
Playing at home has had no impact on the Hawks’ results. They’re 8-12 at home and 10-14 on the road and have a nearly identical net rating in both locations. For reference, Dallas is 11-9 outside of their home arena.
The biggest question for Friday night is if Young’s return will be enough to bring the team back from three straight losses. Unfortunately, he averaged just 20.6 points in his career against Luka and may have lost his shooting rhythm after being out nearly a week with a head injury.
We love the Mavericks here. They’re just an overall better team and will be buoyed by the return of Irving, who did not play the last game against the Phoenix Suns.
Both teams lost their last three games and need a win—that said, Dallas has more to potentially achieve and is more likely to get up for the game. While Luka hasn’t been great against Trae either, he has more help on offense and is red-hot coming into the game.
Ride with the better team here considering how small the line is and the Hawks’ struggles to cover the spread.
Mavericks vs. Hawks pick: Mavericks -2.5 at BetMGM
When: Friday, Jan. 26 @ 7:00 PM ET
Where: State Farm Arena, Atlanta, GA
TV: NBA TV
Grant is a sports and sports betting journalist who prides himself on delivering breaking news and insightful analyses of the industry. Grant graduated from Virginia Tech in 2021 and is feverishly pursuing his ambitions in the sports betting field.
In his free time, Grant can be found passionately watching sports, doing a workout, or searching for adventure with his friends.More info on Grant Mitchell
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