The controversial Irving requested a trade from the Brooklyn Nets and was promptly shipped to Dallas, where he’ll team up with Luka Doncic in the Western Conference. But with Doncic currently sidelined with a heel injury, we’ll have to wait to see how the two volume scorers fit next to one another in the Dallas backcourt.
For now, it’ll be Irving quickly being thrust into a major role for the Mavericks, a team that’s firmly in the middle of the pack in the West, starting Wednesday night in Los Angeles.
The Clippers are 8.5-point favorites at BetMGM with the total listed at 220.5, so the oddsmakers believe it will be a challenge for Irving to begin his Dallas career with a win.
The Clippers have won eight of their last 10 and are currently one game ahead of Dallas in the West standings. But those standings are very fluid as nine teams are currently bunched together within two games of each other in the loss column.
The Mavericks, currently 29-26 on the year, have been the worst team in the NBA against the spread, going just 19-33-3 against the number. That includes a 10-17 ATS mark as a road team.
For all of the self-inflicted off-court nonsense, Irving is still one of the best players in the league. He averaged 27.1 points, 5.3 assists and 5.1 rebounds this season in Brooklyn. The Mavericks’ brass shipped out Spencer Dinwiddie, Dorian Finney-Smith and three draft picks to bring Irving to town and form one of the NBA’s top duos with Doncic.
Doncic is tied for the league lead in scoring average with Joel Embiid at 33.4 points per game. He also takes the second-most shots per game — 22.3 per game behind only LeBron James (22.9). Irving averages more than 20 shots per game, so the fit with Doncic will certainly take some time to come together.
The experiment begins Wednesday night.
Sixers-Celtics tilt tops rest of NBA slate
While Irving’s Dallas debut will understandably get a bulk of the attention, there are also eight other games on deck in the NBA for Wednesday night. That includes a pretty big tilt in the Eastern Conference.
The Boston Celtics are set to host the Philadelphia 76ers. These teams have two of the four best records in the NBA with Boston atop the East standings at 38-16 and Philly three games back in third at 34-18. The Sixers have gone 2-2 since their impressive win over the West-leading Denver Nuggets back on Jan. 28, including blowing a lead in New York on Sunday. Boston, meanwhile, has won three of its last four after enduring a brief three-game losing streak in late January.
The Celtics are 4.5-point favorites for this showdown. This is the first time the two sides have met since the Sixers won 126-117 in Philly on the NBA’s opening night.
College hoops heating up
With the calendar turned to February, conference races are heating up across college basketball.
There are a lot of games to sort through, but a few stand out above the rest on Wednesday. No. 11 Iowa State is heading on the road to face West Virginia, which has won four of its last six after an 0-5 start in Big 12 play. WVU, despite being unranked, is favored by 3.5 points at home.
Elsewhere in the Big 12, Oklahoma State is a 5.5-point favorite at home over Texas Tech and No. 14 Baylor is a 9.5-point home favorite over Oklahoma.
In the Big Ten, two teams fading from the NCAA tournament bubble — Penn State and Wisconsin — are set to meet in State College. PSU, coming off an ugly road loss to Nebraska, is a 4.5-point favorite over the reeling Badgers, who have lost seven of their last nine games.
Light NHL schedule
There are only two games in the NHL on Wednesday night.
The New York Rangers will host the Vancouver Canucks and the Dallas Stars will host the Minnesota Wild. Both of the home teams are favored at BetMGM. New York is listed at -250 on the moneyline while Dallas is -145.
What’s the best bet?
I like to play spots in college basketball. And I like this spot for West Virginia.
Iowa State, after losing three of four (including blowing a huge lead on the road vs. Texas Tech), beat No. 8 Kansas by 15 points on Saturday at home. A few days later, ISU will head on the road to Morgantown to face a WVU team that is playing much-improved ball and is on the bubble. Beating ISU would only add to the resume.
I’ll lay the 3.5 points with WVU.