- The Mavericks nearly knocked off the Warriors in their first game without their veteran point guard, proving Dallas is still a force to be reckoned with on its home court.
Here are Three at 3's top picks for Wednesday's slate.
1. Orlando Magic at Detroit Pistons (-4)
7:00 pm ET
The Magic emphatically ended a four-game losing streak at home this past weekend, knocking off Boston 105-103 on Saturday (ORL +7) before pulling another upset the very next day with a 116-109 win over the Rockets (ORL +5.5). Much of Orlando's success in those two contests can be attributed to its perimeter defense, as it held Boston to 25% three-point shooting and Houston to 23.8%, including a 1-of-17 brickfest from James Harden. The Magic also controlled the boards, grabbing 52% of rebounds across the two games.
They'll return to the court on Wednesday after two full days of rest, and will take on a Pistons team that has lost six of its eight games in 2019 (3-5 against the spread). Detroit could be particularly vulnerable against some of the strengths Orlando leveraged to get its two wins over the weekend: While the Pistons are 10th in rebound rate on the season (51.1%), they're 26th among any NBA team over its last eight games at 48.2%. Plus, they attempt the seventh-most threes in the league (34.1 per game) but shoot only 33.0% from deep, the second-lowest mark league-wide. The Magic's defensive intensity on the outside figures to further widen that gap in efficiency.
Pick: Magic +4
2. Toronto Raptors at Boston Celtics (-2)
Perhaps the most discussed story in the NBA over the past couple days has been Boston's dysfunction, and rightly so after its ugly 109-102 defeat in Brooklyn on Monday night, a game in which the Celtics gave up 44 points in the third quarter and trailed by 27 with under nine minutes remaining. While the Celtics' infighting does feel like it's come to a head, their current three-game losing streak—with all three losses coming on the road—is really just an extension of how they've played away from home all season. They've lost four straight and six of their last seven on the road (1-6 against the spread), and are 10-13 in away games on the year (8-15 ATS).
But at the TD Garden, where they'll host the Raptors on Wednesday night, the Celtics have won six straight games (6-0 ATS), and are 15-5 on the season (14-6 ATS). That home-road disparity has played out in their season series with the Raps, in which they lost in Toronto in October (113-101, TOR -3) but won in Boston in November (123-116, BOS -1.5). The Celtics have certainly fallen far short of their lofty ceiling as a team, but it won't be time for full-on panic mode until they start losing games at home.
Pick: Celtics -2
3. San Antonio Spurs at Dallas Mavericks (+1)
In their first game following point guard J.J. Barea's season-ending Achilles' injury, the Mavericks looked as competitive as ever. They gave the Warriors everything they could handle on Sunday before ultimately losing 119-114 at home (DAL +6) to a Golden State team that has been at the top of its game recently. Still, with the cover, Rick Carlisle's team improved to a league-best 15-6 against the spread at home this season. Given that the Mavs are not expected to make the playoffs, their 16-5 straight-up mark in Dallas is arguably even more impressive.
In their home games that are expected to be close (line between +3 and -3), the Mavericks are a perfect 9-0 both straight up and against the spread this year. Such a contest will take place tonight when the Mavs host in-state rival San Antonio, which has lost three of its last four games, with its only cover in that stretch being an overtime win versus Oklahoma City. With the Spurs searching for answers, expect Luka Doncic and Co. to take advantage at home.
Pick: Mavericks +1
Overall Record: 102-84-4