MIAMI HEAT (16-6)
at DALLAS MAVERICKS (12-13)
Tip-off: Thursday, 9:35 p.m. ET
Line: Miami -5.5, Total: 201.5
After an up-and-down homestand, the Heat get back on the road Thursday when they fly west to Dallas, which is still missing Dirk Nowitzki.
Miami was 4-2 (SU and ATS) during its just-completed six-game homestand, with those losses coming to 9.5-point underdog New York and 8-point underdog Golden State. But the Heat have pounded the past two opponents, beating Washington by 30 and Minnesota by 11 on Tuesday. Dallas hasn't lost at home since Nov. 24 to the Lakers, but it has played eight of its past 11 contests on the road, going 2-6 SU (4-4 ATS) in those road tilts. In addition to Nowitzki (knee) being out, PF Elton Brand (groin) and SF Brandan Wright (ankle) are both questionable, while PG Derek Fisher (knee) is doubtful for this game.
Will the Heat be able to pull this one out on the road? For the answer, connect to NBA Best Bets for all the Expert picks throughout the entire 2012-13 season. The experts were a perfect 5-0 ATS on Wednesday and are at 52% ATS (149-140-10) on Best Bets for the season. StatFox Gary is 58% ATS (29-21-3) Best Bets for the year. StatFox Scott is at 53% ATS (34-30) Best Bets for the season and StatFox Brian is at 51.4% ATS (37-35-3) after going 5-2 ATS (71%) in the past six days. For NBA Totals, Scott is 39-24 (62%) for the season, while Gary is 8-6 (57%) in Totals since Dec. 13.
The Heat are just 4-4 SU (3-5 ATS) on the road this season, scoring 96.7 PPG while giving up 100.0 PPG. But they have played just one away game in the past 11 contests, where they have surpassed 100 points in nine of these 11 games. SF LeBron James (25.2 PPG, 5th in NBA) is the first player since Karl Malone in 1989-1990 to score 20+ points in each of his team's first 22 games. James has also been incredible in his eight road games this year, averaging 25.8 PPG (51% FG), 8.8 RPG and 7.4 APG. In his last road game on Dec. 4 in Washington, James finished with a triple-double (26 pts, 13 reb, 11 ast). SG Dwyane Wade has been limited to fewer than 30 minutes in each of his past three games, but he has still thrived with 17.0 PPG (55% FG) and 5.0 APG. In Tuesday's win over Minnesota, Wade scored 24 points on 8-of-14 FG. He could see much more than 30 minutes on Thursday, as he has averaged 23.8 PPG (46% FG) and 5.7 APG in 13 career regular-season games with Dallas. PF Chris Bosh has 20.0 PPG and 9.7 RPG in 18 career meetings with the Mavs, but he was held to 11.5 PPG on 38.5% FG in the two meetings last year.
Dallas was happy to return home after a winless three-game road trip, as it shot a blistering 54.2% FG in a 107-100 win versus Philadelphia. SG O.J. Mayo led the way with 26 points (8-of-12 FG) and eight assists, while C Chris Kaman was a beast down low with 20 points on 9-of-15 FG. The Mavs outscored the Sixers 48-32 in the paint and came up with nine steals. Mayo is in the midst of an outstanding month of basketball, scoring 22.2 PPG on 51% FG and 53% threes in these nine December games. In seven career games versus Miami, he has 16.1 PPG on 49% FG and 35% threes. Kaman has 11 straight double-figure scoring games, averaging 15.0 PPG on 53% FG during this streak.