Kyrie Irving set to make Mavericks debut against Clippers
We’ll get our first look at Kyrie Irving in a Dallas Mavericks jersey Wednesday night against the Los Angeles Clippers.
The controversial Irving requested a trade with the Brooklyn Nets and was promptly shipped to Dallas, where he will join Luka Doncic in the Western Conference. But with Doncic currently sidelined with a heel injury, we’ll have to see how the two volume scorers in Dallas’ backcourt fit side-by-side.
For now, it will be Irving who will be quickly pushed into a key role for the Mavericks, a team firmly in the center of the field in the West, beginning Wednesday night in Los Angeles.
The Clippers are 8.5-point favorites at BetMGM with a total score of 220.5, so oddsmakers believe it will be a challenge for Irving to start his Dallas career with a win.
The Clippers have won eight of their last ten and are currently a game ahead of Dallas in the West table. But those rankings are very fluid, with nine teams currently tied within two games in the losing column.
The Mavericks, who are currently 29-26 on the year, were the worst team in the NBA against the spread, going just 19-33-3 against the number. That includes a 10-17 ATS mark as a road team.
Despite all the self-inflicted off-court nonsense, Irving is still one of the best players in the league. He averaged 27.1 points, 5.3 assists and 5.1 rebounds this season in Brooklyn. The Mavericks sent out Spencer Dinwiddie, Dorian Finney-Smith and three draft picks to bring Irving to town and form one of the NBA’s best duos with Doncic.
Doncic is tied with Joel Embiid at the top of the league on 33.4 points per game. He also has the second most shots per game — 22.3 per game behind only LeBron James (22.9). Irving averages more than 20 shots per game, so it will certainly take some time for the fit to come together with Doncic.
The experiment starts on Wednesday evening.
Sixers-Celtics Tilt leads the rest of the NBA board
While Irving’s debut in Dallas will understandably draw a lot of the attention, there are also eight more games in the NBA on Wednesday night. That includes a pretty big tilt in the Eastern Conference.
The Boston Celtics host the Philadelphia 76ers. These teams have two of the top four records in the NBA, with Boston topping the East rankings at 38-16 and Philly three games back in third place at 34-18. The Sixers have gone 2-2 since their impressive win over west-leading Denver Nuggets on Jan. 28, including a lead in New York on Sunday. Boston, meanwhile, has won three of its last four after ending a brief three-game losing streak in late January.
The Celtics are 4.5-point favorites for this showdown. This is the first time the two teams have met since the Sixers won 126-117 on opening night of the NBA in Philly.
College hoops are heating up
With the calendar turned to February, college basketball’s conference races are heating up.
There are many games to sort through, but some stand out from the rest on Wednesday. No. 11 Iowa State heads to face West Virginia, who have won four of their last six after a 5-0 start in Big 12 play. WVU, although not in the ranking, is favored at home with 3.5 points.
Elsewhere in the Big 12, Oklahoma State is a 5.5-point home favorite over Texas Tech, and No. 14 Baylor is a 9.5-point home favorite over Oklahoma.
In the Big Ten, two teams fading out of the NCAA tournament bubble — Penn State and Wisconsin — meet in state college. PSU, coming off an ugly away loss to Nebraska, is a 4.5-point favorite over the reeling Badgers, who have lost seven of their last nine games.
Light NHL schedule
There are only two games in the NHL on Wednesday night.
The New York Rangers host the Vancouver Canucks and the Dallas Stars host the Minnesota Wild. Both home teams are favorites at BetMGM. New York is quoted at -250 on the moneyline, while Dallas is at -145.
What’s the best bet?
I like playing spots in college basketball. And I like this location for West Virginia.
Iowa State, after losing three of four (including a huge lead down the road against Texas Tech), beat No. 8 Kansas by 15 points at home on Saturday. A few days later, the ISU will hit the road to Morgantown to face a WVU team that is playing a vastly improved ball and is on the bladder. Beating ISU would only add to the CV.
I lay the 3.5 points with WVU.