Bet on Utah in the NBA Playoffs Opener (April 16)

Jazz vs. Mavericks Odds

Jazz odds -4.5
Mavericks odds +4.5
Over under 209.5
Time 13.00 ET
Odds via Caesars. Get updated NBA odds here.

The NBA Playoffs opens with this matchup between the No. 4 Dallas Mavericks and the No. 5 Utah Jazz in the West. The tension has been dampened a bit with the news from Shams Charania that Luka Doncic is not expected to play with his calf strain.

Still, Utah has been wildly inconsistent this season and over the past month, and without Doncic, the pressure is on the road.

Can Jazz win what is basically a must-win without Doncic, and more importantly, can they cover the spread? Will this be a defensive slug party or an offensive showcase in the playoff opening?

Let’s bet on Mavs-Jazz Game 1.

Jazz must have a talent edge

As you might expect, the Luka Doncic injury changes everything.

Jazz kept Spencer Dinwiddie at just 0.840 points per game. possession and a 44% eFG as Rudy Gobert defended the screenwriter in pick-and-roll this season. Guard Jalen Brunson had an average of 0.939 points per game. possession, 44.7% eFG, while Doncic had an average of 1.08 points per. possession and a 59.8% ECG.

It’s a monster drop-off.

The Mavericks’ defense is still solid, but without Doncic to put pressure on, the Jazz will have more opportunities to push the pace and force disagreements in the middle of the transition, despite being a slow pace team. The Jazz are happy to swap blows in a slug party with how effective their offensive is, even though the Mavericks go for an overriding scheme.

The Mavericks’ lone defensive weakness is against drives, so Donovan Mitchell and Mike Conley should be able to produce if they can get past the initial defensive line.

Gobert is also likely to score more points than usual with the Mavericks’ offensive rebound problems. He played 34 minutes in the three games he played in, scoring 12, 14 and 10 points, all under his 14.5 over / under.

With that number, I think it’s a stay away, but I want to see if I can find anywhere with Hassan Whiteside props given how well he played against Dallas this season.

If this was any other team – with this profile in this position – putting five points against the Mavs without Doncic, it would be an automatic smash-spot.

But Jazz just consistently plays down to competition and seems to suffer the worst forms of collapse. If Utah is up 15 with eight minutes left in the fourth, I will not feel good about the money line, let alone the spread.

How fast will the Mavericks adapt?

Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Doncic could miss the first two games in the series, but I would advise you to play one by one and not go ahead of yourself. Tim Hardaway Jr. is out and Maxi Kleber trained fully on Wednesday.

Utah allows the 10th most 3-pointers per. 100 possession out of pick-and-roll, just an average conversion rate (16th at 52.15% eFG). Without Doncic to put pressure on the rim with drives, and given Brunson’s size and difficulty against long defenders, expect a lot of 3-point attempts for Dallas, which will put some value on individual 3-point props due to desperation.

Gobert will roam around in the paint, and the Jazz will not be so afraid that Brunson or Dinwiddie will attack them. Dwight Powell always finds ways to score more than he should in these matchups, sneaking up on lobs and duck-ins, and he could end up being the player that Utah lives with offensively.

Dallas’ defense is solid, but that number is painfully low. The Mavs may stagnate the Jazz offensive with switches, but there are ways to avoid it, especially with how high the Mavericks’ defenders tend to play.

Dallas went 9-7-1 against the spread this season without Doncic, but was only 4-4 ATS against playoff teams.

Jazz-Mavericks Pick

The number has fallen far too low – a full 10 points since the opening. I also want the Jazz money line in parlays. I plan to bet the Mavericks on winning the series after Game 1 regardless of the outcome, you can read more about that in my series preview.

As I wrote above, Dallas is likely to be 3-point heavy in this one. I also like Dorian Finney-Smith and Reggie Bullock 3-pointer props over 2.5, Hassan Whiteside points and rebounds overs at any book that will post them, and over up to 210.

Pick: Jazz -5 | Over 209 | Dorian Finney-Smith and Reggie Bullock over 2.5 made 3-pointers

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