Saturday Night NBA Pick: Celtics vs. Mavericks Prediction

Dallas Mavericks v Boston Celtics
Dallas Mavericks v Boston Celtics / Maddie Meyer/GettyImages

Two playoff hopefuls square off in tonight's premier matchup. The offensive-minded Dallas Mavericks host the young Boston Celtics tonight in a game both teams would love to come out victorious. In this prediction, let's dive into the Celtics vs. Mavericks matchup and determine the best bet for this Saturday Night NBA prediction.

Saturday Night NBA pick: Celtics vs. Mavericks Prediction

Boston comes into this game with a 4-5 record after starting the season slower than expected. Dallas has had a slow offensive start to the season, but their defense has carried the weight to a 5-3 start.

Bean Town Meltdown

After Marcus Smart's public comments about the chemistry of the Celtics and their young talent, Boston held a players' only meeting, which showed immediate results. They're 2-0 since Smart's statement and did so empathically with a dominating performance against the No. 2 team in the Eastern Conference in the Miami Heat.

Offensively, Boston ranks in the bottom-tier regarding efficiency. They are 23rd in effective field goal percentage (eFG%), 20th in offensive rebound percentage (ORB%), and 19th in Net Rating. The Celtics also own one of the slowest paces in the league, ranking 23rd in pace. 

The Celtics have a top 10 ranked defense which helps keep them in most games. Boston is 7th in defensive eFG% and 13th in opponent turnover percentage. If the Celtics can improve on their league-worst opponent free throw rate, their defense will improve dramatically. With their 12th ranked defensive rating and a 20th ranked offensive rating, a look at the total may make more sense in this game.

One-Man Wrecking Machine

With the Kristaps Porzingis trade all but a failure thus far, superstar Luka Doncic has put the Mavericks on his back. However, second-year guard Jalen Brunson has shown flashes of improvement and is averaging a career-best 15 points per game. Doncic's expectations can lessen with two legitimate ballhandlers, and he won't need to play full games every night.

For a team known for their offensive firepower, the Mavericks rank near the bottom in many categories. Dallas has the third-worst eFG% this season and ranks in the middle in ORB% and free throw rate. The Mavericks' defense has led the charge this season so far as they have the 16th ranked defensive rating yet the 25th ranked offensive rating. Just like the Celtics, we have a defensive-minded Mavericks team struggling to put the pieces together offensively thus far.

Celtics vs. Mavericks prediction and pick

Both teams rank in the bottom half of the league offensively yet have legitimate defenses that have kept them relevant thus far. The Mavericks rank 18th in pace while the Celtics are 23rd in the league. The 2021 NBA season has seen a dramatic decline in overall point totals, with over 65% of the totals cashing on the under this season. Take under 210.5 points in tonight's Saturday Night NBA prediction and expect a defensive, low-scoring affair between the Celtics and Mavericks.