Mavericks-Celtics Preview: All Eyes on Tatum’s Status

Tonight features a marquee matchup on national TV as the Dallas Mavericks travel to take on the NBA-leading Boston Celtics. This matchup is headlined by two of the frontrunners to take home MVP honors, Luka Doncic and Jayson Tatum, both of whom are averaging north of 30 points

Mavericks @ Celtics Game Information

  • Location: TD Garden | Boston, MA
  • Time: 7:30 p.m. ET | TV: ESPN

What we’ll need to watch as today unfolds is Tatum’s status, as he’s currently listed as questionable with a left ankle sprain. We’ll expect him to play unless indicated otherwise, but if not, Jaylen Brown will obviously play a much more significant role and carry the load offensively.

In the few games Tatum missed last season, Marcus Smart’s usage rate increased by ten percentage points, indicating a potentially strong showing from him tonight if Boston’s star is out.

Spencer Dinwiddie is also listed as questionable for tonight’s game as he’s dealing with a left shoulder ailment. Behind Luka, Dinwiddie is the secondary ballhandler, and the gap between them and the next man is pretty noticeable. Tim Hardaway Jr. would be the guy we would look to take on a more prominent role, with Frank Ntilikina eating up a noticeable amount of minutes.

Mavericks @ Celtics Game Odds on FanDuel

  • Spread: Celtics -4.5 (-110) | Mavericks +4.5 (-110)
  • Moneyline: Celtics (-186) | Mavericks (+154)
  • Total: Over 218.5 (-110) | Under 218.5 (-110)

Boston is coming off a loss after winning nine straight games and has the league’s second-best offense in scoring. They live and die by the three-ball as they attempt nearly 42 threes per game, second most in the NBA, only behind Golden State slightly. 

Dallas sports the NBA’s best defense, surrendering about 105 PPG while allowing the fewest three-point attempts. They look to have a favorable matchup, but we made the same case for Atlanta last Wednesday, and the C’s dropped 126 points. The Mavs are last in rebounds and assists, so if their defense isn’t stout, they don’t have much else besides Luka.

Mavericks @ Celtics Game Picks on FanDuel

  • Over 218.5 (-110) | Luka Doncic Triple-Double
  • Jayson Tatum OVER Rebounds | Marcus Smart OVER Assists

Ten of Boston’s last 11 games have gone over the 218.5 mark, so there’s value, despite Dallas’ defensive excellence. Few teams have combatted Boston’s firepower this season and are in a spot to bounce back from a loss. We still like the OVER, even in Tatum ends up sitting out.

If he plays, we like for Tatum to go over his rebound prop, as he’s recorded double-digit rebounds in three of his last five games. Dallas’ rebounding woes certainly favor Tatum, who should have plenty of opportunities near the glass if he is on the floor.

Smart to go over his assists is also regardless of Tatum’s eventual status. He’s eclipsed eight assists in six of his last seven games with Tatum and would have the ball much more in his hands without him. 

Doncic has recorded a triple-double for the Mavs in two of his last four games and will be heavily depended upon to keep Dallas in the game. We’ve seen him throw the entire squad on his back. On national television, on the road, against a great team, we expect (and hope) Luka to do just that.