DALLAS MAVERICKS (20-27)
at OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER (35-12)
Tip-off: Monday, 8:05 p.m. ET
Line: Oklahoma City -9, Total: 208.5
The Thunder are looking to improve to 3-0 against the Mavericks this season with a win in Oklahoma City on Monday night.
Dallas is 0-2 SU against the Thunder this season, losing 111-105 on the road in December and then 117-114 at home last month, with both defeats coming in overtime. But for this game, both teams' star players are injured with Mavs PF Dirk Nowitzki (thigh) and Oklahoma City SF Kevin Durant (ribs). The expectation is that both will play on Monday night, which is great news for the Thunder considering Durant has a whopping 46.0 PPG so far this series. Dallas is closing out a four-game road trip on Monday, starting the trip with close losses in Portland (by 2) and Golden State (by 3), but bounding back with a 10-point win in Phoenix on Friday. Oklahoma City has alternated wins and losses in the past eight contests (3-5 ATS), losing its last game on Saturday in Cleveland, 115-110.
Can the Thunder win and cover the hefty spread on Monday night? For the answer, connect to NBA Best Bets for all the Expert picks throughout the entire 2012-13 season. The experts are a collective 21-14 ATS (60%) over the past five days, with StatFox Dave 8-4 ATS (67%) and StatFox Scott 6-3 ATS (67%) over this stretch. Scott is now 54% ATS (71-61-1) for the season, while StatFox Brian is 51% ATS (73-71-3). For NBA Totals, the experts are an outstanding 28-12 (70%) in the past nine days with Brian going 9-3 (75%), Gary at 10-4 (71%), and Scott at 9-5 (64%) since Jan. 25. For the season, Scott is a whopping 59% (71-50) in Totals, while Gary is a solid 52% (61-57-4).
C Chris Kaman (concussion) is out for the game, but Dallas was better utilizing small lineups with Dirk Nowitzki at center the last time they played the Thunder. But Nowitzki, who has missed the past two games, has been dreadful in this series this season, scoring just 13.5 PPG on 26.7% FG. In Friday's 10-point victory over the Suns, SG O.J. Mayo played really well with 20 points, five rebounds, four assists and three steals. SF Shawn Marion has also been playing extremely well for Dallas, averaging 16.0 PPG and 14.0 RPG in the past two games. Against Phoenix, Marion also contributed four blocks. SG Vince Carter has been playing some of his best basketball since joining the Mavericks, averaging 16.0 PPG on 49.1% FG over the past five games. He has been instant offense off the bench and must continue to play well to keep Dallas competitive.
Oklahoma City is coming off of a loss to the Cavaliers in which they were winning for most of the game. Kevin Durant left briefly with a ribs injury, but was able to come back and still pour in 32 points in the losing effort. He is now averaging 30.2 PPG, 7.2 RPG and 5.4 RPG over the past five contests. And when Durant last faced Dallas on Jan. 18, he scored a career-high 52 points (13-of-31 FG, 21-of-21 FT) with nine rebounds. PG Russell Westbrook had 31 points in that game, but he has been struggling mightily with his jump shot over the past five contests, shooting only 38.9% from the field and 3-of-20 from three (15.0%). With Durant less than 100 percent healthy, Westbrook must find a way to be a little more efficient. On Saturday, Serge Ibaka was great for Oklahoma City with 18 points (7-of-12 FG), 12 rebounds and 4 blocks. Ibaka doesn’t always have big nights on offense, but he’s capable of hitting mid-range jump shots, which really opens up the Thunder offense. In two games versus Dallas this season, Ibaka has 15.0 PPG, 15.5 RPG and 3.5 BPG.