NBA Picks for Thursday TNT: Mavericks at Heat Odds and Betting Predictions
by Alan Matthews - 3/28/2012
The last time the Dallas Mavericks stepped on the AmericanAirlines Arena floor in downtown Miami, the date was June 12, 2011. Behind 27 points from Jason Terry and 21 from Dirk Nowitzki, the Mavs won their third straight game in the 2011 NBA Finals and finished off the favored Heat in Game 6 that night, 105-95, for the franchise’s first NBA title.
Terry and Dirk were the only two members of that Dallas team to have played on the 2006 Finals club that blew its series against the Heat.
This one looks to be the final game between the teams this season. A rematch in the NBA Finals appears highly unlikely. Oh, the Heat, currently second in the East, could well get there. And they in fact are 7/4 Bovada favorites to win it all.
But Dallas is middling along in the West and is only at 20/1 to repeat. Dallas is only No. 5 behind the Thunder, Spurs, Lakers and Clippers to win the West again at 10/1. But this was to be expected with Mark Cuban jettisoning key players off last year’s club like Tyson Chandler and J.J. Barea as the Mavs clear cap room for a run at Deron Williams, a Dallas native, this summer. (And with Dwight Howard staying in Orlando now, don’t be surprised if Williams does bolt New Jersey for home).
Mavericks at Heat How the Teams Enter
The Mavs have won two in a row but can kiss the Southwest Division title goodbye as they enter play Wednesday 6.5 games behind San Antonio. The key for Dallas now is to try and get that No. 4 seed and home-court advantage in the first round, and the Mavs are neck-and neck with the Clippers for that spot. Dallas just finished a home-and-home sweep of Houston with a 90-81 home win on Tuesday. Saturday’s road win in Houston was only Dallas’ second in the past 10 away games.
The Heat, meanwhile, have hit a bit of a slump in dropping two straight. The chances of catching Chicago atop the East are starting to look grim. There’s no shame in losing at Oklahoma City, as Miami did on Sunday, and at Indiana, which happened Monday. But the Heat lost by 16 and 15 points, respectively, marking the first time they have dropped back-to-back games by double digits since the start of the Big 3 era.
Mavericks at Heat Betting Story Lines
Let’s get to the big injury first and that’s to the left ring finger of likely NBA MVP LeBron James. James dislocated that finger in Monday’s loss to the Pacers. The good news is that’s his non-shooting hand and James played through the pain after injuring it in the first quarter. James finally confirmed the injury on Wednesday but said he popped the finger back in. He was seen wearing a splint at practice on Wednesday (the Heat didn’t practice Tuesday), as X-rays came back negative.
LeBron has missed just one game so far this season, sitting out Jan. 5 at Atlanta because of a sprained left ankle. However, he also has recently complained of discomfort in his right elbow.
The bad news is that Miami is just 3-6 on the road this month but the good news is that it is 5-0 at home. The Heat are allowing 8.7 more points per game on the road and their opponents are shooting four percent better from the field. With one more loss this month, Miami will have equaled its loss total from December through February. The Heat are averaging 9.6 points per game fewer this month and are getting severely outrebounded.
As for Dallas, it might have gotten a very encouraging sign in Monday’s win over Houston. Lamar Odom has been a huge disappointment this season and hasn’t shown much effort most nights. He’s obviously not happy to be away from L.A. and his Kardashian bride. Odom got the first Did Not Play-Coaches Decision of his career last Friday and then was scoreless in 13 minutes Saturday. But on Monday he was aggressive and finished with nine points (4-for-5 shooting), four rebounds and three assists in 23 minutes. These Mavs aren’t as deep as last year’s team and their only chance to seriously contend is for Odom to play at that level.
Of course, Dallas and Miami helped kick off the NBA season with a Christmas Day game in Big D, and it was an embarrassment for the Mavs as they raised their title banner. The Heat led by 35 points in the third quarter on the way to a 105-94 win that wasn’t near that close. LeBron and Dwyane Wade were clearly on a payback mission. James finished with 37 points, 10 rebounds and six assists. Wade had 26 points, eight rebounds and six assists. That snapped a 14-game regular-season losing streak to Dallas for Miami (so, obviously, the Mavs won in south Florida last year).
Mavericks at Heat Betting Odds and Key Trends
Miami opened as a 6.5-point favorite with the total at 190 on NBA odds. Dallas is 26-25 ATS overall this season and 12-12 away. Miami is 23-25 ATS overall and 11-11 at home. ‘Over/under’ records: DAL 24-27 (12-15 away), MIA 20-26-2 (7-15 at home).
The Mavericks are 3-7 ATS in their past 10 road games. The Heat are 0-4 ATS in their past four games vs. Western Conference teams. The over is 8-2 in Dallas’ past 10 games. The under is 5-1 in Miami’s past six games.
NBA Picks for TNT Thursday: Mavericks at Heat Betting Predictions
I have no doubt in my mind that James will play – he already has said he intends to miss no time. I could see the Heat resting James a few games once the Bulls really are out of reach in the East, but that’s not the case yet with Chicago still missing Derrick Rose for the foreseeable future. LeBron is only hitting 40 percent from the field the past five games, so perhaps the wear-and-tear of the season it taking its toll.
This game is hard to pick as both teams will be highly motivated. The Mavericks no doubt remember that opener, while the Heat remember the Mavs winning the Finals on their floor. But the Mavs are simply due to lose a regular-season game down there and the Heat have the NBA’s best home record at 20-2. Thus, I would give the points, so take Miami and the under.
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