The Dallas Mavericks and the San Antonio Spurs will put a nice bow on what has been a thrilling first round with their Game Seven that tips off at 3:30 p.m. Eastern on Sunday. The Mavericks stayed alive in thrilling fashion with a fourth-quarter comeback on their home floor. Up until Friday night, the Spurs were 25-0 with a road lead after three quarters and are now 55-2 on the season. The Spurs are a 6.5-point favorite on their home floor for Game Seven with a total of 198.5. The Mavericks have covered the spread in all six games of this series.
Even though the Mavericks won Game Six, there have to be a lot of concerns for Rick Carlisle. The Mavericks played in spurts on Friday night, opening up leads with runs and then giving up the leads for long stretches of turnover-filled basketball. Overall, for being a #1 v. #8 series, the Mavericks have to be happy to force a Game Seven, but consistency is definitely a concern.
This has definitely been a fun series to watch with two teams that play great team basketball. Six players were in double figures for each team on Friday night, which is a refreshing change of pace from the other series where the star players are generally carrying their teams. Five players from each team are averaging double figures per game in the series.
With such balance, who has the advantage in Game Seven? Home teams entered play on Saturday with a 91-23 record in Game Sevens, which certainly has to be magnified for the Spurs because of their 32-9 regular season home record. In the current 2-2-1-1-1 NBA seven-game series playoff format, home teams are 10-4 in the seventh game of the series. Favorites have a record of 17-9 ATS and the home team is 11-5 straight up after a Game Six loss.
Since 1947, teams that had at least 13 more regular season wins than their opponents have posted a series record of 10-2 in the best-of-seven format. In franchise history, the Spurs are 24-6 in best-of-seven series after winning Game One. However, recent history may not support the Spurs. The Mavericks are 4-1 in deciding Game Sevens and are on a four-game winning streak. The Spurs are just 3-5 in those games, including a loss in Game Seven of last season’s NBA Finals.
The Mavericks got a lot of support from their bench in Game Six and one has to wonder if Rick Carlisle has one-upped Gregg Popovich in a great battle of two tenured coaches. The Mavericks bench outscored the Spurs bench 37-25 and outrebounded them 20-8. Of course, the Spurs can take solace in the fact that Manu Ginobli had a terrible game, going just 1-for-8 from the field and scored six points, yet the Spurs only lost by two.
Depth, which is the strong suit of both of these teams, may be a bit of an issue for the Mavericks with Jose Calderon’s broken nose. He’ll likely play with a mask, but we’ve seen countless examples of players struggling to get acclimated to the mask. It alters their shooting and their vision. Calderon is 11-for-21 from three-point range in the series to lead the team in that category.
Against the spread, the Spurs have not bounced back well from losses. The Spurs are 0-7 ATS in their last seven following an ATS loss. As mentioned above, the Spurs are 0-6 ATS in this series. They are also 0-5 ATS in their last five when favored by 5.0-10.5 points. The Mavericks are now 20-6-2 ATS in their last 28 Conference Quarterfinal games. They are 50-19 ATS in their last 69 road games and 37-14 ATS as a road underdog.
Pick: Dallas Mavericks
The Spurs have moved from a Game One home favorite of nine points down to a favorite of 6.5 points as this series has gone on. These two teams, despite the seeds, are very evenly matched and negate the opposition’s strength to create a much greater balance. Both of these teams are able to have success because of their depth, but neither team has a depth advantage here. The Mavericks have shown a lot of tenacity and resiliency in this series by navigating through bad stretches of play and that prepares them well for this game in a hostile environment. The Spurs will probably advance, but it will be much closer than they will have hoped.
Adam Burke is a freelance writer and amateur handicapper with a knack for finding value through matchup analysis and a deep understanding of the sports betting market. His main area of expertise is baseball, with a background in sabermetrics and advanced statistics. He is the host of The Gridiron Gambling Report and our college football and college basketball BangTheBook.com podcasts on the BlogTalkRadio Network.