DALLAS MAVERICKS (30-33)
at SAN ANTONIO SPURS (49-16)
Tip-off: Thursday, 8:05 p.m. ET
Line: San Antonio -7.5, Total: 206
The red-hot Mavericks try to avoid a season sweep from a Tony Parker-less Spurs team on Thursday night when they make the short trip to AT&T Center.
Dallas has won four straight games (3-1 ATS), including the first three contests of its road trip that concludes on Thursday. The Mavs have scored 100+ points in all four victories, averaging 107.3 PPG on 50.4% FG (42% threes) during the win surge. San Antonio has been wildly inconsistent since its star point guard Parker suffered a knee injury on March 1. After winning three in a row, the Spurs lost by 30 at home to Portland, beat Oklahoma City by 12 and then got crushed by 24 points in Minnesota in their most recent game on Tuesday. San Antonio has dominated this series in the past three seasons with a 9-2 ATS mark (8-3 SU) including 4-1 (SU and ATS) against the Mavs at home. This includes a 3-0 (SU and ATS) record this season with the Spurs winning 129-91 in the lone meeting in San Antonio on Dec. 23, and then prevailing in Dallas by 25 points on Dec. 30 and by six points on Jan. 25. But the last time the Mavs were swept in this season series was 15 years ago, way back in 1997-98.
Can the Spurs finish the season sweep with a comfortable victory? For the answer, connect to NBA Best Bets for all the Expert picks throughout the entire 2012-13 season. All four experts remain red-hot in NBA Best Bets. StatFox Gary is 68% ATS (13-6) in March and 70% ATS (21-9) since Feb. 20, StatFox Brian is 62% ATS (13-8) since Feb. 28, StatFox Scott is 58% ATS (36-26) since Feb. 3 and StatFox Dave is 59% ATS (10-7) since March 2. Since February began, the experts are a collective 56% ATS (135-106). Scott is now 55% ATS (106-87-1) for the season, while Gary is 54% ATS (84-73-4). For NBA Totals, Gary is a perfect 7-0 since March 7, while Scott is 60% (12-8-1) since Feb. 22 to raise his season record to 56.1% (88-69-1) in Totals.
Dallas continues to produce big offensive numbers with 101.4 PPG (7th in NBA) on 45.7% FG (10th in league) and 37.1% threes (8th in NBA). But its defense ranks 4th-worst in the league with 102.3 PPG allowed despite respectable numbers of giving up just 44.4% FG and 36.1% threes. Much of this has to do with a soft interior that ranks 3rd-worst in the NBA with a minus-3.3 RPG margin. However, the team has made a bigger commitment on the boards recently, outrebounding its past two opponents by +9.0 RPG. PF Dirk Nowitzki (16.0 PPG, 6.7 RPG) has been red-hot during the team's season-high-tying win streak with 17.3 PPG (52% FG) and 8.0 RPG in the four games. However, Nowitzki has been subpar in the season series with a mere 10.3 PPG and 5.0 RPG in the three meetings with the Spurs. SG Vince Carter (13.3 PPG, 4.0 RPG) has also played outstanding recently with six straight double-figure scoring games in March (17.2 PPG on 57% FG), which includes 22.5 PPG (8-of-11 threes) in his past two contests. Carter has 14.3 PPG on 53% FG in three meetings with San Antonio this season. SG O.J. Mayo (17.2 PPG, 4.4 APG, 3.7 RPG) has been quiet in the season series (9.7 PPG on 38% FG), but has a well-rounded 15.3 PPG, 5.3 APG and 4.0 RPG in March. PG Darren Collison (12.2 PPG, 5.3 APG) has shot lights-out against the Spurs this season (15.3 PPG on 63% FG), but has struggled to score during the four-game win streak with a mere 8.8 PPG on 10-of-32 shooting (31%). The Mavs could be without SF Shawn Marion (11.7 PPG, 7.9 RPG), who has missed three straight games with a contusion in his left calf. Marion has been dreadful against the Spurs though, making just 3-of-16 shots in the season series.
The Spurs offense continues to roll with 104.4 PPG (4th in NBA) on 48.7% FG (2nd in league) and 38.0% threes (4th in NBA). Defensively, San Antonio is also better than most, allowing 96.3 PPG (11th in league) on 44.0% FG (8th in NBA) and 33.7% threes (4th in league). The Spurs have been nearly impossible to beat at AT&T Center this season, where they are 26-4 SU (17-11-2 ATS), including a 22-2 SU mark in the past 24 home tilts. Their poor showing in Minnesota on Tuesday had a lot to do with the absence of big men PF Tim Duncan (16.6 PPG, 9.6 RPG) and SF Kawhi Leonard (11.3 PPG, 5.4 RPG), who were left home as they deal with sore knees. Both players are listed as questionable for Thursday. Without the two starting forwards against the Wolves, the Spurs shot 35.4% FG and turned the ball over 17 times. SG Manu Ginobili (12.4 PPG, 4.5 APG) must play better for the Spurs to win, as he has shot a paltry 33% FG (3-for-15 threes) in his past three games. Ginobili has also been off the mark against Dallas this season with just 8.7 PPG on 44% FG, but has added 5.0 APG in the season series. SG Danny Green (10.7 PPG) has been outstanding versus the Mavs though, with 14.7 PPG on 62% FG. He's also shot 52% FG and 52% threes in the month of March. C Tiago Splitter (10.5 PPG, 6.1 RPG) had a huge night in Monday's win over Oklahoma City with 21 points (9-of-11 FG) and 10 rebounds, but was held to four points on 1-of-10 shooting in Tuesday's defeat. He's been solid versus Dallas this season though, with 10.3 PPG (53% FG) and 8.3 RPG in the three meetings.