What Makes Dallas Mavericks Great 2020 NBA Title Longshot?
Mark Strotman | 5 mins
Upsets rarely happen in the NBA Playoffs. The Houston Rockets, the No. 6 seed in the Western Conference, won it all in 1995. But since then the NBA champion has been ranked first in its respective conference 14 times, second six times, and third four times. Just four No. 4 seeds or worse have made the Finals in that span and they’re 0-4.
But for a handful of reasons, the 2020 playoffs could be different and NBA Finals betting might be too. Homecourt advantage is gone, players might miss games because of positive COVID-19 tests and it’s anyone’s guess as to how teams will respond in unprecedented settings after nearly five months off.
It’s why this season could feel a lot like 1995 – or even 1999, a lockout-shortened season in which the eighth-seeded Knicks made the Finals. And if you’re looking for an NBA betting darkhorse this summer, look no further than the Dallas Mavericks, an excellent value at +1800 to win the West with bet365 and +4000 to win the Finals on 888Sport. Here’s why:
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Mavericks Offense Playing At All-time High
This won’t come as a shock, but success on offense is a solid indicator of winning. Consider that in 2020, the teams with the 11 best records – from the 53-win Bucks to the 40-win Thunder – occupy the top nine spots (plus 12th and 14th) in offensive efficiency. No NBA champion since the 2011 Mavericks has ranked outside the top-6 in that category. Given the state of the league and its trends, dominant offenses will continue to breed champions.
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That’s great news for the Mavericks, who before the shutdown had an offensive rating of 115.8, which was not only the best mark in the NBA but the best mark of all time. Think about that: This year’s Mavs team has had more efficient scoring than the Steph Curry/KD Warriors, LeBron James’ Heat, Michael Jordan’s Bulls, Magic Johnson’s Lakers – all of them.
The Mavs are fifth in effective field goal percentage and second in turnover percentage. It goes well beyond Luca Doncic (28.7 points per game) and Kristaps Porzingis (19.2 ppg), who aren’t all that efficient despite excellent volume numbers. Dallas has effective bigs in Maxi Kleber and Boban Marjanovic. Plus, sharpshooters Seth Curry and Tim Hardaway Jr. rank 2nd and 20th in the NBA in 3-point FG%, the only West teammates playing in Orlando to rank in the top 20.
This offense is built for success and beating the NBA playoff odds. Doncic is unguardable, Porzingis is a matchup nightmare and they have the perfect complement of shooters, stretch bigs and low-post/roll options. Offense wins in today’s NBA, and the Mavericks are scoring at an historic rate. That is crucial to consider when you look at NBA odds.
Mavericks Are Road Warriors
The last seven NBA champions averaged 28.1 road wins. No champion finished outside the top-3 in their respective season, with four of those champions leading the league in road victories. Home success is obviously important, but three of those same champions finished 4th (2019 Raptors), 7th (2018 Warriors) and 6th (2014 Spurs) in home wins their title-winning season.
So road success is a good indicator of teams that can win in the postseason. That’s good news for a Mavs team that is 21-12 on the road this season, a 26-win pace over 82 games. It’s second best in the West (Lakers, 26-6) and fourth best in the NBA (Bucks, 25-9; Raptors 23-9).
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But it goes beyond record. Remember the Mavs’ all-time efficient offense? It gets even better on the road (116.6). That uptick improves their road net rating to +5.7, the league’s second-best mark and slightly better than the Lakers (+5.3) despite the difference in record. That’s significant given the restart and new settings in which teams will be playing in Orlando. All games will have a road feel. The Mavs have proven they can win away from home among the best in the league and it should give them an advantage compared to teams that rely more on homecourt advantage.
Mavs Have Played Well Against West’s Best
The one argument against picking the Mavs is, of course, their competition in the West. The conference favorites are the Lakers, who are +150 odds in the West at Unibet, and the Clippers (+180). The Rockets (+700 in the West, +1200 for the title) are also contenders in NBA futures betting. The West is a juggernaut, but there’s good news: Dallas has played the other current seven playoff teams very well.
The leaders in net rating vs. other West playoff teams are: Lakers +4.2, Clippers +2.3, Rockets +1.6, Mavs +0.4, Thunder -0.8, Jazz -1.4, Nuggets -1.5, Grizzlies -5.2.
Dallas has some puzzling losses (twice to the Knicks, once each to the Kings, Wizards and Hawks) but also wins over the Lakers, Rockets and Nuggets (twice). When considering their title odds, the Mavs won in Milwaukee to snap the Bucks’ 18-game win streak in December, and they also have wins over Toronto and Philadelphia (twice). They can play with anyone and that’s worth knowing when you check out the latest NBA title odds.
Mavs Defense Solid Enough
No one will mistake the Mavs’ defense for the Bulls of the 90s, but it should be good enough to get the job done. It’s a safe bet that offenses will be behind defenses when the league restarts, so Dallas’ shortcomings won’t be as big a hindrance.
What’s more, Dallas might have unlocked something in the final six weeks before the shutdown. Through Jan. 31, the Mavs had the league’s No. 18 defense. From Feb. 1 until the pandemic began, they had improved that rank to 10th, including No. 4 in seven March games. That’s not to say they’ll have momentum, but more so that coach Rick Carlisle may have found something that worked that he’ll use in the postseason.