Mavericks vs. Suns Game 1 Betting Preview
Following the Game 2 injury to Devin Booker, the Suns went from looking like the team to beat this year to a potential first round out. While that ended up being proved false as the Suns won in 6 behind some almost perfect performances from Chris Paul, DeAndre Ayton, and the Suns supporting cast, the Pelicans certainly showed that the Suns are vulnerable to teams who are able to get out and run against them in transition, and teams that have players who can thrive in the paint (for the Pelicans, this was primarily achieved by Brandon Ingram and Jonas Valančiūnas).
That said, the Mavericks don’t truly have that type of player. Following their trade of Kristaps Porzingis to the Washington Wizards, in exchange for Spencer Dinwiddie and Davis Bertans, the Mavericks leaned hard into taking advantage of multiple ball-handlers and shooters on the court at all time, to open the offense as much as possible for Luka Doncic.
Funnily enough, while many thought that that would lead to a better offensive product and a worse defense, the Mavs finished the season as a middling offense (15th in offensive rating and 24th in PPG) while finishing ahead of almost all teams defensively (6th in defensive rating, 2nd best in opponent PPG). The Mavericks have their flaws, but at the end of the day, they are a well-oiled machine behind the wizardry of Luka Doncic, and there are a not insignificant number of teams that this team, as it’s currently built, should be favored against.
However, the Suns aren’t one of those teams. While they were clearly one of the better teams in the league this season overall, the Mavericks have struggled against the Suns, going 0-3 against them in the 2021-2022 season, with 7 points as the Suns’ lowest margin of victory. Those regular season wins should be fairly indicative of what we’ll see in this first playoff game, particularly as Devin Booker has had additional time to recover from the injury he suffered in Game 2 of the Suns/Pelicans series.
We commented on this at length in our Suns/Pelicans series preview, but the reality is that the Suns are an incredibly well-built team that is at the top of the league both offensively and defensively. They have a deep enough bench that their starters aren’t forced to play overly inflated minutes, they can play both big (helmed by Ayton) & small (with defensive line-ups that include Jae Crowder and Mikal Bridges), they can play pass-heavy team ball or revert to ISO ball when needed, and they can throw out consistent different looks & schemes depending on match-up because of the ball-handling and floor general skills of both Booker and CP3.
All in all, the Suns are the rightly favored team here, and the odds reflect that. With that in mind, we’ll look to find value outside of the standard spread or moneyline bets. While we will be picking the Suns to cover the spread (currently -6 at BetRivers for -130), we’ll also be taking Chris Paul over 32.5 Points + Rebounds + Assists.
Paul is a bonafide Game 1 performer, going 15-7 over his career thus far in Game 1’s in the playoffs, and in those games, he’s averaged 22.2 / 5.1 / 8.8. Based on how he has played so far these playoffs, and his historical record & performances, CP3 to hit the over on PRA is a strong bet that we highly recommend.