The New Orleans Pelicans (24-15) begin a five-game road trip against the Dallas Mavericks (22-17), who just had a seven-game win streak snapped. Brandon Ingram, Zion Williamson, CJ McCollum, Larry Nance Jr are out for New Orleans, and Jonas Valanciunas is questionable. Dallas will be without Dorian Finney-Smith, Josh Green, and Maxi Kleber.
Can the pesky Pelicans keep this close without their top players? Odds, predictions, starting lineups, and key matchups are below.
New Orleans Pelicans vs. Dallas Mavericks Betting Odds
Dallas is a heavy favorite, as the spread is -9 Mavericks with their moneyline at an untouchable -390. New Orleans must win 23% of the time here for their +340 moneyline to be profitable long-term, and their spread has climbed as high as +9.5. The over under is 223 points, and it’s worth noting that the over is 13-6 in the last 19 meetings between these teams.
New Orleans Pelicans vs. Dallas Mavericks Prediction
Although I believe Dallas likely wins, there is too much value on the Pelicans here. I’m taking them to cover +9.5 and their moneyline at +340. They already beat Dallas this season 113-111 without Zion, Ingram, or Herb playing also.
Dallas runs a Luka-centric offense with plenty of on-ball screens and spot up three-pointers. Doncic often isolates his defender and punishes switches by posting up smaller guards. It works because the Mavericks surround Luka with four shooters, and the Luka-Wood screen duo is devastatingly efficient because Wood can either pop or roll. As a result, Dallas is 3rd in half-court offense, 1st in pick and roll ball handler offense, and 3rd in ShotQuality’s Spacing metric. However, when opponents have a hoard of lengthy defenders who excel at on-ball pressure, deflections, and screen navigation, the Mavericks can struggle to maintain a blistering offense.
And that’s exactly what defines the Pelicans, who just forced Durant and Irving to shoot a combined 16/48 (33.3%) from the field. Herb Jones is an elite defender who locks down point guards to power forwards. Despite owning one of the highest matchup difficulties every night, Herb slows down opponents and forces turnovers. Naji Marshall isn’t the same caliber on-ball, but he defends well and thrives as an off-ball chaser. Meanwhile, the Pelicans also have Dyson Daniels and Jose Alvarado – two elite defenders that neutralize the pick and roll completely.
The chart below via BBall Index displays two metrics: on-ball defense and passing lane defense. Per BBall Index, on-ball defense can be thought of as isolation defense, or a “cornerback guarding a wide receiver”. Passing lane defense “captures how disruptive players are through their ability to intercept passes and deflect the ball.”
As you can see, Herb, Dyson, and Jose are terrifying defenders that will limit Luka’s ability to create space while disrupting his playmaking. Luka will still stuff the box score, but the Pelicans won’t allow him to completely dominate the game and manufacture a massive lead. They are the main reason New Orleans ranks 5th in Defensive Rating, 9th in half-court defense, 5th in opponent turnover percentage, 3rd in pick and roll ball handler defense, and 2nd in Adjusted Defensive ShotQuality (per ShotQuality).
On offense, the Pelicans will be shaky without Ingram (20.8 PPG), Zion (26 PPG), and CJ (20.4 PPG). They still possess the capability to launch a decent attack though. Trey Murphy (5.5 3PA, 41.7 3PT%) can absolutely scorch opponents from deep, which is vital considering Dallas ranks 23rd defending catch and shoot threes (per ShotQuality). Valanciunas will provide an offensive hub in the paint, Herb is a dangerous cutter, and Alvarado and Marshall have improved tremendously as scorers.
Although I don’t expect an offensive explosion, the Pelicans can score 105-110 points here. Their covering chances will come down to whether they can turn this into a messy, defensive slugfest, which I believe they will.
- Pelicans are 1-5 ATS in their last 6 road games
- Over is 8-3 in Pelicans last 11 overall
- Mavericks are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games overall
- Over is 13-4 in Mavericks last 17 games following a straight up loss
- Over is 13-6 in the last 19 meetings
Which team will win the key matchups? Check out below for these vital battles.
The Pelicans have to at least be even in the 3PT battle. Murphy, Marshall, and Alvarado will be responsible on the offensive end, while Herb, Dyson, Alvarado, and Marshall will be responsible on the defensive end. If New Orleans ends up with a higher percentage, then they have a decent chance of covering a massive +9.5 points.
Because of their injuries, the Pelicans don’t have two key players that create their own shots. Therefore, New Orleans needs Alvarado to score and set up teammates for open looks. If Dallas swarms him and forces him into an inefficient, turnover-ridden night, then the Pelicans chances of covering decline rapidly. Alvarado is the game changer here without a doubt.
New Orleans Pelicans Starting Lineup
Dallas Mavericks Starting Lineup
New Orleans Pelicans Injuries: Brandon Ingram (O), Zion Williamson (O), CJ McCollum (O), Jonas Valanciunas (Q), Larry Nance Jr (O), EJ Liddell (O)
Dallas Mavericks Injuries: Dorian Finney-Smith (O), Josh Green (O), Maxi Kleber (O)