We went 2-1 yesterday. The Nets held on and defeated the Wizards 119-118. The Dallas Mavericks beat the Toronto Raptors by 4 and covered the -3.5 point spread thanks to some clutch plays by Luka Doncic down the stretch. The loss came at the hands of the Los Angeles Lakers. Their tumultuous season took another turn for the worse after Russell Westbrook was benched due to poor play down the stretch. Coach Frank Vogel did not hold back when asked about it and stated he put the players out there that he felt could win the game. It has since been reported that Westbrook’s benching was signed off on by management. That dynamic will be worth watching as the season progresses. Let’s take a look at 2 of the 3 games on the slate tonight.
Phoenix Suns(-2.5) at Dallas Mavericks(+2.5) 7:40 p.m EST
The Mavericks have held opponents to under 50% from the field in their last 20 games. They also enter tonight’s game having won 10 of their last 11 games. And yet, it still feels like we’ve yet to see Dallas play their best basketball. Their struggles from three-point range and Luka Doncic’s inconsistent play have caused them to play competitive games against teams they should be running off the court. On one side, it tells us this team has another gear to hit. On the other, you have to wonder why they’ve yet to put it all together for a stretch of games. They deserve all the credit in the world for winning 10 of the last 11 games and stabilizing their season but must play better if they hope to contend with the best teams in the league.
Phoenix is the top seed in the West but will be without DeAndre Ayton. Ayton has dominated Dallas in the paint and poses a huge matchup problem for them but ultimately this game will come down to Chris Paul and Devin Booker. If this game is close, and chances are it will be, expect Chris Paul to dominate in crunch time. In their past three meetings, Dallas has been unable to contain Paul down the stretch.
Pick: Phoenix Suns -2.5 (-110 via DraftKings)
New Orleans Pelicans(+4) at NY Knicks(-4) 7:40 p.m EST
Julius Randle should feast against the Pelican front line. Jonas Valanciunas is a solid rim protector but struggles to defend in space. If Randle can isolate him on the perimeter, he should be able to get JV in some early foul trouble. The Knicks are fighting for their playoff spot and with their schedule getting much tougher, tonight’s game against the Pelicans is as close to a must-win as you can get at this point in the season.