Let's talk about the gambling implications of the Luka Doncic injury:
- The Mavericks, without Doncic, took the Heat to overtime and beat the Bucks on the road. While nobody could have predicted things going that far, Dallas' survival without Doncic isn't all that surprising. , and for the season, have only been 1.4 points per 100 possessions worse with him on the bench. If the lines don't respect the Dallas supporting cast, take advantage of it.
- Speaking of the Dallas bench, what is happening right now is going to cause a narrative shift. Eventually, people are going to catch on to the idea that Dallas would be a decent enough team without Doncic, and that is going to impact his MVP candidacy. If you were planning on going in on that, I would hold off.
- Despite leading the Houston Rockets by one in the loss column and currently having the head-to-head advantage, the Mavericks are still only +200 at DraftKings to win the Southwest Division. Now might be the time to jump on that if you think their overall performance is sustainable.
With that out of the way, let's dive into the games of the night.
All lines via William Hill.
Los Angeles Lakers at Indiana Pacers: Lakers -4
Yes, the Pacers are 11-3 at home, but look at the losses: by 11 point to the Clippers and by 19 points to the Bucks. The Pacers have played one of the easiest schedules in the league so far, and outside of a recent win over Boston, have done very little to prove they can compete with the NBA's best teams. The Lakers certainly fit that bill. They still haven't lost outside of Staples Center this season. Until someone actually proves that they can take the Lakers down on the road, I'm not going to be the one who predicts it.
Sacramento Kings at Charlotte Hornets: Kings -4.5
The Hornets have played well recently. A recent three-game road winning streak is nothing to scoff at, but at this point, they're looking fairly depleted. With Nicolas Batum, P.J. Washington and Marvin Williams battling injuries, Charlotte has very little left of their forward rotation. The Kings, meanwhile, are 4-1 in their past five games. They are 11-4 against the spread on the road, and with De'Aaron Fox expected to return, should be at full strength for the first time since opening night. Sacramento is too hot to ignore right now.
Atlanta Hawks at New York Knicks: Knicks -1.5
The Knicks have been downright feisty since firing David Fizdale. They're 2-2 with Mike Miller at the helm, beating the Kings and Golden State Warriors, and they took the Pacers down to the wire in Miller's debut. Some of it is unsustainable. Miller isn't Gregg Popovich. But Elfrid Payton's return has sparked meaningful improvement in this roster, which was in sore need of a true point guard (among many other things). With such a small line against a 6-21 opponent at home, it makes sense to keep riding the wave.