The NBA’s Western Conference is deeper than ever. Several of the conference’s lottery teams from last year have gotten off to unexpectedly strong seasons, and only the 5-24 Phoenix Suns have a record worse than 13-15.
Two of the most pleasant surprises, the 15-13 Sacramento Kings and 15-12 Dallas Mavericks, will get a chance to face off against each other for the first time this NBA season today (7 p.m. ET Sunday). These teams won 27 and 24 games all of last season, respectively, but they’re now on pace for 44 and 46 in 2018-19.
Both squads are coming off frustrating losses. The Mavericks lost 99-89 to the cellar-dwelling Suns on Thursday. The Kings blew a double-digit fourth-quarter lead against the two-time defending champion Golden State Warriors on Friday.
Which team will respond to their loss with more vengeance today? We’ll preview the matchup before settling on betting recommendations and picks for the contest with our Sacramento Kings vs Dallas Mavericks predictions.
Which Team Will Set Tempo Early?
The Kings play the second-fastest pace in the NBA. They thrive on scoring on the fast break and actually lead the NBA in that type of points per game by more than two points. Young athletes like De’Aaron Fox and Willie Cauley-Stein are electric in transition and Buddy Hield, Bogdan Bogdanovic and Nemanja Bjelica are always willing to fire up threes early in the shot clock.
Dallas is a middle-of-the-pack team in both of the aforementioned statistics. The Mavs feature lots of slower or older players like Luka Doncic, Wesley Mathews, DeAndre Jordan and Dirk Nowitzki. Two quick guards (Dennis Smith Jr. and JJ Barea) are both questionable for the game with injuries.
Dallas has a skill advantage in this matchup, but Sacramento has the edge in athleticism. A slow-paced game will benefit the Mavs and a faster-paced game will benefit the Kings.
Can Dirk Nowitzki Be Difference-Maker on Offense for Mavs’ Bench?
Dallas’ bench has been very solid this year in helping the team to a surprising start. However, there’s definitely a missing element from the Mavs’ reserves. They are great on defense and get to the rim well, but they are a poor shooting group — just 30.5 percent of their shots from three-point range have fallen.
Nowitzki will be playing his second game of the season coming off the bench and he will likely play more than the six minutes he got in his first contest.
Obviously, the 40-year-old future Hall of Fame big man is not the player he used to be. However, his jump shot is still very effective. Dallas needs to use him to bolster its long-distance shooting attack from the bench. If he can provide that without being too much of a defensive liability, the Mavs’ reserves can be very effective.
Will Willie Cauley-Stein or DeAndre Jordan Win Matchup of Big Men?
Two or three years ago, this would have been a dumb question to ask. Jordan made the All-Star game in 2016-17 and was a premier rim finisher and interior defender. Cauley-Stein was a raw big who was a bit too thin and raw on the offensive end to play a big role for the Kings.
Now, the 30-year-old Jordan is just a solid center. He still scores pretty well at the rim, but his efficiency has dipped and his defensive effort is wildly inconsistent.
Cauley-Stein has turned into a very respectable starting center for Sacramento with his excellent quickness and defensive instincts for the position. The 25-year-old is averaging career highs in points (14.3), rebounds (8.5) and assists (2.4) per game.
Jordan is stronger and more experienced, but Cauley-Stein is quicker and plays with a more consistent motor. Who will win this matchup?
Our Preview’s Sacramento Kings at Dallas Mavericks Betting Picks & Predictions Verdict
With the potential injury issues for the Mavericks’ point guards, I like the Kings’ chances at staying very competitive or even winning the game. Dallas’ efforts to get Dirk Nowitzki reintegrated in the lineup may interfere with its chances of winning the game.
The Mavericks have played a bit better basketball than the Kings over the past several games, but their schedule has also been much more home-heavy. So the Sacramento Kings vs Dallas Mavericks predictions for this preview look like this:
- For the first of the picks, I like Sacramento’s odds in this game. Dallas is favored by 5.5 points with all America’s major sportsbooks, but I would put money on your best odds of Kings +5.5pts @ -105 with BetOnline.
- A big part of the young Kings’ ability to stay in this game (or even win) will be their ability to push the pace on the slower Mavs. So for the total points, place your bet on the over 225pts @ -105 with Bovada or BetOnline.
Jared is a lifelong sports fan and writer whose specialist subject is NBA. A 2015 graduate of Indiana Wesleyan University, with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, Jared has been a sought-after freelance sports writer. In addition to his valuable USA Betting contributions, he has also written for other top media outlets.