The Dallas Mavericks are a solid 5-4 this season despite not yet having their second-best player, Kristaps Porzingis, available from offseason knee surgery. The "Unicorn" is expected to make his debut, however, on Monday night when the Mavericks host the New Orleans Pelicans. Porzingis definitely will be needed because Dallas will again be without Jalen Brunson, Josh Richardson and Dorian Finney-Smith due to COVID-19 protocols. Perhaps Maxi Kleber too. Dallas opened as a 4-point favorite on the William Hill Sportsbook NBA odds. Update: The game has been postponed.
Porzingis tore the lateral meniscus in his right knee in Game 1 of the Mavs' playoff series against the Los Angeles Clippers in the Orlando bubble. Porzingis did play the following two games but then was done with soreness and stiffness in that knee. The 25-year-old averaged 20.4 points, 9.5 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game during his first season with the Mavs. Porzingis was playing at All-Star level in his final 21 regular-season games, averaging 26.7 points, 10.5 rebounds and 46.8% shooting.
It's not 100 percent that Porzingis will debut Monday, but he is listed among the starters on the team's game notes for the first time.
The Mavs are dealing with some COVID-19 issues as at least two members of the team have tested positive, but the club hasn't said who. Brunson, Richardson, Finney-Smith and Kleber are all in the NBA's health and safety protocols. Richardson is a starter and averages 13.8 points per game. Finney-Smith had been starting but mainly because Porzingis has been out. Finney-Smith averages 9.3 points and 5.0 rebounds. Brunson is the top reserve and puts up 11.1 points per game. Those three are all listed as out on the team notes. Kleber is listed as questionable and averages 7.5 points and 5.3 rebounds.
Dallas enters on a three-game winning streak. It swept New Orleans 4-0 last season, scoring at least 118 points in each game. In eight career games against the Pelicans, Mavs superstar Luka Doncic is averaging 25.8 points, 9.9 rebounds and 7.9 assists. Doncic is playing out of his mind right now, one rebound shy of three straight triple-doubles. He's averaging 30.3 points, 12.0 rebounds and 11.3 assists in the three-game winning streak. William Hill lists him as the +400 favorite to win NBA MVP.
New Orleans (4-5) enters on a three-game losing streak. The Pels are listing Steven Adams as questionable for Monday with a migraine. He's averaging 10.3 points and 8.9 rebounds per game. The Pelicans are 2-5 ATS in their past seven vs. Dallas.
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