Luka Doncic Calf Injury: Bookmaker’s Perspective on Mavs’ Playoff Odds

Written By Eli Hershkovich on April 13, 2022
Luka Doncic calf

After reports surfaced that Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic suffered a calf strain with an unknown timetable for his return, the betting market officially opened for their first-round series against the Utah Jazz. I chatted with Jeff Sherman, Westgate SuperBook’s vice president of risk management, to take in his perspective on the impact of Doncic’s injury.

The 23-year-old point guard didn’t participate in Tuesday’s practice, but Mavs coach Jason Kidd didn’t rule him out for Game 1 on Saturday either. Click on the odds below to place a bet.

Luka Doncic Calf Fallout: Mavericks Futures

How would you have priced Mavericks vs. Jazz ⁠— for Game 1 and the series ⁠— if Doncic was completely healthy?

I think the Mavericks would have been a small favorite (for the Game 1 spread) since they’re at home. And so you would have had like a right around like Dallas -120 to maybe pick(’em), something in that neighborhood (for the series price).

Were you a believer in Dallas long-term if Doncic was available?

The Mavs are no more than a legitimate long shot that you know might be able to make some noise and get through a few series. It would be tough for me to recognize them going all the way throughout, including The Finals. The East has so many strong representatives.

Entering the season, I was asked often about long shots. A couple of months ago, one of mine was Denver because of Jamal Murray, who it doesn’t look like is coming back at this point. But if he was on pace to be added into the rotation, then you could have seen value in them at 25-1 or 30-1.

Still, a lot of people were saying, you know, with Dallas healthy, it had a shot. That was a good trade getting rid of Kristaps Porzingis because they actually got a productive player, who’s on the court all the time, in Spencer Dinwiddie. But it’s not like I expected this team to compete in the playoffs with the teams that are less than 20-1.

Is there any liability on the Mavs to win the West?

We’re a small winner on them, actually. There were some people looking at them as a long shot where the West wasn’t as strong as it seemed in years past. You’d be surprised if they come out. You pinpointed like Phenix, and for a while there was Golden State, but now it’s kind of opened up a little bit more.

So we started seeing money come on those other teams like Denver, Dallas and Utah. Our biggest Western Conference futures liability is Minnesota, followed by Denver.

Mavericks vs. Jazz Game 1 Odds

How did you open the Mavs-Jazz series and Game 1 odds following the Luka Doncic calf news on Tuesday?

We opened Utah -220 (to win the series), and now we’re up to -300. It’s creeping up closer to what we thought it would be. I saw lesser prices (at other sportsbooks) on Tuesday, and I laid less than $2 myself.

In terms of Game 1 itself, I know some places that opened Dallas -3 (before Doncic’s injury news was official), which was aggressive. I thought it would be like Dallas -1.5. The additional news today has pushed it to Utah -4.5.

It’s funny because I’m no athlete at all. But about six weeks ago, I dealt with a minor calf strain. I felt like it took about a month to get better. I can’t imagine he’s playing like anywhere near close to 100 percent (if he plays in this series).

Would you consider betting the Mavericks if the betting market bumps up the Game 1 spread a bit more?

I think you’re going to get a great effort out of Dallas in the first game if Doncic ends up not playing. The one thing that we’ve seen is when teams over the past few years have been missing their star players, they’re get pretty good at covering the spread (as a result of the team’s emotional response) if you get the best number you can with the team that is missing the player.

So if you see overreactions to the Doncic news (later in the week), then if you base it on what we’ve seen on the regular season, there can be some value on the team that is missing the player for sure.

Even when the number is adjusted, we get decent handle from the general public. They’re like, “Well, I think this team just got blown out when they’re missing their best player(s).” So it’s an overreaction by the public based on perception that drives that number up too high when there’s absolutely value on the other side.

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Eli Hershkovich

Eli Hershkovich is a lead sports betting writer with TheLines and Catena Media, formerly with Audacy and The Action Network. His goal is to provide you with data and information to lead you to winning bets. Eli is an avid college basketball gambler — among many other sports — and still hasn't forgiven Virginia for ruining his 2018-2019 Texas Tech futures.

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