DALLAS MAVERICKS (12-16)
at OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER (21-6)
Tip-off: Thursday, 8:05 p.m. ET
Line: Oklahoma City -10, Total: 208
Dallas heads into Oklahoma City on Thursday night with the help of its superstar, Dirk Nowitzki, who returned a game ago after offseason knee surgery.
Nowitzki played just 20 minutes in a 129-91 drubbing in San Antonio on Sunday, but with his team performing decently in his absence, the Mavericks could be looking at a turning point to their season. The Thunder enter this game on a two-game losing skid and have also compiled eight straight ATS losses when hosting Dallas.
Can the Thunder cover this hefty spread? For the answer, connect to NBA Best Bets for all the Expert picks throughout the entire 2012-13 season. The experts have sizzled since Saturday with a collective 17-6 ATS (74%) mark, including a perfect 7-0 ATS record from StatFox Dave, while StatFox Brian is on a 4-0 ATS run since Sunday. The experts are 64% ATS (27-15) since Dec. 19 and are 53% ATS (171-155-10) on Best Bets for the season. StatFox Gary is 55% ATS (33-27-3) Best Bets for the year, while Brian is at 53% ATS (43-38-3) after going 11-5 ATS (69%) since Dec. 14, and StatFox Scott is also at 53% ATS (37-33). For NBA Totals, Scott is 42-28 (60%) for the season.
With Nowitzki out, SG O.J. Mayo has emerged as a big time scorer for the Mavericks and he should be able to take a lot of pressure off of Nowitzki. Mayo is averaging 19.3 PPG this season on 47% FG, and may be the best wing player that Dirk Nowitzki has played with since Michael Finley. C Chris Kaman, Nowitzki's teammate on the German national team, has also been playing well, averaging 13.7 PPG and 6.2 RPG for the Mavericks so far on the season while shooting 52% FG. Kamanís play should only improve with Dirk as the two have developed some nice chemistry playing together over the summer.
The Thunder are coming off of a 103-97 Christmas Day loss to the Heat, but wonít be down on themselves as they played far from their best basketball and were right there at the end. SF Kevin Durant was unstoppable for Oklahoma City, scoring 33 points while grabbing seven rebounds in the losing effort. PG Russell Westbrook has been doing a great job scoring the basketball over the past three games, averaging 26.0 PPG over that stretch. Westbrook, however, must do a better job finding his teammates than he did in the loss to the Heat. He recorded only three assists in the loss compared to his season average of 8.6 APG. C Kendrick Perkins recently called out his team, saying they needed to start playing selfless basketball again, and itíll be interesting to see if they respond.