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Tipico Tips: Betting the Thursday NBA slate (Feb. 25)

NBA Bets

The Thursday night prime-time NBA game has no shortage of star power. Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks travel to Philadelphia to take on Joel Embiid and the 76ers on TNT. Over at Tipico Sportsbook, the game is lined at -5.5. The Mavericks are likely to be short-handed, with both Kristaps Porzingis and Maxi Kleber listed as questionable. Neither of them played in the Mavericks’ 110-107 victory over Celtics Tuesday that Luka sealed with a last-second three ball. They have to travel up to Philadelphia where the 76ers have a point differential around 5.5 at home. Philadelphia has been slightly better than Boston by most metrics as well, so they are deserving favorites here. If Kleber and Porzingis do sit again, it’s tough to see how the Mavericks pull off another upset here. 

The 76ers are 13-2 on the season at home. They have beaten some very good teams multiple times, including the Celtics and Heat. Their point differential at home is one tenth of a point above the spread, at 5.6 per game on average. Both teams are talented offensively, although the Mavericks have scored an average of 7 points less without Porzingis in 2021. They have averaged 115 points per game with him, only 108 without him in a 13-game sample size. Philly has allowed the 10th-fewest points per 100 possessions this season. This is not a good team to face when you are lacking offensively to begin with. 

The 76ers should have no trouble scoring on Dallas. Kleber is an above-average defender and would be needed in a matchup with a big 76ers frontcourt. Porzingis is not good defensively. They do still have Dorian Finney-Smith who can defend, but he can’t guard all three of Tobias Harris, Ben Simmons and Embiid. Those jobs will fall to guys like Dwight Powell and James Johnson, with some Willie Cauley-Stein and Boban Marjanovic thrown in to eat some minutes. Dallas may be able to get away with that defensive grouping against weak frontcourts, but the 76ers are elite. Chris Boucher and Aron Baynes combined for 21 Tuesday and Pascal Siakam added 22 points. This is going to be the difference in the game. 

The 76ers are likely to win this game, but the question comes down to whether they win going away to cover the -5.5 spread. Betting against Luka Doncic never feels good, as Celtics backers found out Tuesday. Coming off that effort, traveling to Philadelphia, and playing shorthanded once again just seems like too tall of an ask against a very good 76ers team. I will lay the -5.5 with Philly, because the moneyline is too low and I think they have a better chance to win this game comfortably than I do of them losing it. 

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