A possible NBA Finals battle takes place tonight as the Miami Heat travels to face the Dallas Mavericks. Dallas has won a season high twelve games in a row, but Miami is also playing solid basketball and the Heat stand 11-4 SU their past fifteen games. The late game features a pair of ascending teams as Chicago travels to Sacramento off an impressive road win at Denver last night, while the Kings have won three of their past four games with Ron Artest in the lineup. Below is a look at both national TV battles for Thursday night. MIAMI at DALLAS (-4 ½, 198 ½) (TNT) The Mavericks are the hottest team in the NBA and they currently hold the longest winning streak of any team this season.
The Mavs enter this game on a perfect 12-0 SU and 10-2 ATS run and Dallas is coming off a pair of easy home wins over Seattle and the Lakers in which the Mavericks held 21 and 20 point leads. Dallas is once again one of the best offensive teams in the league as they average 99.8 points and 46.
2% FG (versus opponents that allow just 96.1 ppg and 44.9% FG). However, the biggest improvement for Dallas has come of the defensive side of the ball as the Mavericks are an above average defensive squad this season, allowing just 93.2 points and 43.
7% FG (versus opponents that average 95.8 ppg and 44.9% FG). Miami is also playing solid basketball and the Heat stand 11-4 SU their past fifteen games.
They have been a much stronger team with both superstars Dwyane Wade and Shaquille O'Neal healthy and Miami stands 20-9 SU (17-12 ATS) when both players are in the lineup, as opposed to just 1-1 SU (0-2 ATS) without Wade and 9-9 SU (7-11 ATS) without O'Neal this season. Both players are healthy tonight and Miami will be playing with revenge from a 103-90 home loss on November 25th when Shaquille O'Neal was injured. It was the Mavericks third straight win in this series as Dallas stands 3-0 SU/ATS the past two years in head-to-head meetings.
CHICAGO at SACRAMENTO (-5 ½, 195 ½) (TNT) The Bulls snapped their four-game losing streak with a 110-107 win at Denver last night as a 5 ½-point underdog. The game was not as close as the final score would seem to indicate as the Bulls led by 20 points in the game, including a 15-point lead entering the fourth quarter. Chicago's second-year guard Ben Gordon is the hottest player in the league as he has scored 39, 35, and 30 points the past three games. The Bulls must now travel without rest and play their fifth road game in the past ten nights.
Chicago has exhibited a strange reverse home/road dichotomy this season as the Bulls have been stronger on the road (11-14 SU / 14-11 ATS) that at home (10-13 SU / 7-14 ATS). Sacramento has battled numerous injuries this year, but they did get center Brad Miller back in the lineup on Tuesday when the Kings defeated the Grizzlies 104-96 as a 2 ½-point home favorite. Miller had missed the previous two games due to a thumb injury. Miller leads the team in rebounding (8.
0 rpg), is second in assists (5.2 apg), and is third in scoring (15.1 ppg). Sacramento has been without their fourth leading scorer, Bonzi Wells (14.6 ppg), for 22 of the past 24 games.
Wells did return for a couple of battles versus Denver and Utah last week, but he has since missed the past two games. He is listed as questionable tonight due his reoccurring groin injury. The Kings have started to play better basketball since they traded Peja Stojakovic to the Pacers for Ron Artest in late January. Overall, the Kings are 3-1 SU/ATS the past four games, with their only loss coming when they blew a 12-point lead entering the fourth quarter at Utah last Friday. In fact, Sacramento has held the lead entering the fourth quarter of each of their past four games. STEVE MERRIL is a professional sports handicapper and a documented member of The Professional Handicappers League.
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By: Steve Merril