(27-14, 21-18-2 ATS)
(28-14, 23-17-2 ATS)
The losing streak is finally over for the Dallas Mavericks, as they are finally as healthy as they are going to be and are back on winning terms. However, they’re going to have their hands full just one night after getting back in the win column, as they have to engage in an NBA betting battle with the Chicago Bulls at the United Center.
Where the heck was this play when Dirk Nowitzki was injured? Last night against the Los Angeles Lakers, the Mavs really shined, and it wasn’t the German national hero that was doing the deed. Nowitzki only scored 14 points and had just eight boards. However, Jason Kidd, Shawn Marion, and Jason Terry all had at least 21 points, while Aleksandar Pavlovic had 11 to help pace the team in a 109-100 win over the Los Angeles Lakers to snap a six game skid both SU and ATS. There is still clearly something wrong with Nowitzki though, and until he is really back on his game, these Mavs aren’t really NBA title contenders. Yes, Nowitzki is averaging a team high 23.5 points per game this year, but that isn’t the point. Since coming back from this ankle injury, he only has one game with more than 14 points scored, and the team has really only rallied around one time. Yes, the argument could be made that the ‘W’ against the defending champs was a real turning point to the season, but the argument could also be made that it was only made because it was the defending champs that were in town.
Chicago is just very quietly moving along this year, and it is going to run away with the Central Division, probably by more games than any team is going to win a division by this season. If you take out two very disturbing losses against the Charlotte Bobcats, the Bulls have won five straight and are 4-0-1 ATS in that run. This is the second game of a lengthy six game home stand that stretches through the end of the month, but of course, that streak started with an unforeseen loss to the Bobcats. Big men Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah are both out of the lineup in this one, which really leaves the Bulls undersized in the post. Kurt Thomas, Taj Gibson, and Luol Deng are really the only big guys left that can be counted on, but all three are likely to be in the starting lineup, and there is minimal depth on the bench. Still, this is a team that plays fantastic defense, keeping teams down to just 93.0 points per game. That might be the only shot at victory tonight.
This is a very tough game due to the fact that neither of these teams impress us. We know that the Bulls are a product of the lowly division and lowly conference that they play in, and without Boozer and Noah in the fold, they’re losing around 30 points and 25 boards per game. Dallas hasn’t proven anything to us yet, but we’ll take the chance that the ‘W’ against the Lakers is really going to be the point that things turn back around for a team that just fell off of the NBA betting map a few weeks ago.
NBA Free Pick: Dallas Mavericks +3.5