While the Toronto Raptors and Dallas Mavericks have nearly identical records, the Raptors have a much easier road to the NBA Title as they reside in the much weaker Eastern Conference. That said, tonight, these teams face eachother and Dallas has been the hotter team. See if we think the Mavericks can "hold serve" at home.
Tip-off is scheduled for tonight at 8:30pm ET at the American Airlines Arena in Dallas, Texas. According to the NBA odds, the Mavs, who have won 7 out of their last 10 games, are 4 point betting favorites and the total for the game is listed at 205.5.
Neither of these teams really believe in defense as the Toronto Raptors allow slightly over 100 points per game and the Dallas Mavericks also allow just over 100 points per contest. While both teams are driven by their offense, the Toronto Raptors have had two really subpar offensive performances in their last couple of games. Against James Harden and the Houston Rockets, the Raptors scored only 76 points. They need to turn that around if there's any hope for them to defeat the Mavericks in enemy territory.
James Johnson Into the Starting Lineup
This is a move in which the Raptors have benefited from. They have a fairly deep club and guys like Lou Williams and James Johnson are capable of much more, but have been getting under 30 minutes per ball game and it has kept their productivity down.
In his last 2 games, Johnson has started and seen a bump in minutes. The results are 21 points and 5 rebounds per game on 17 of 26 shooting from the field. The Raptors will take that all day long and will need this type of production if they're to compete against a team such as Dallas which is 4th in the league at 105.9 points per game.
Toronto will also look for their two go to guys in Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, who are both capable of nightly 20 point performances and not afraid to shoot the basketball.
Amare Stoudemire in Dallas
This might shake things up as Stoudemire re-joins his former teammate Tyson Chandler in the Big D. We've seen what Dallas has done for Chandlers' game as he averages a daily double-double and Stoudemire would be looking to be a major contributor coming off of the bench.
Stoudemire was once an All-Star in the NBA but his body has taken a beating and his better days were left in Phoenix. That said, he can provide a major boost to the bench. Amare has already made an impact. In just 11 minutes against Charlotte, Stoudemire had 14 points and 3 rebounds. This tells me that he's ready to play and it will make this team much better as Dirk Nowitzki is nearing 37 years of age and this can provide Dirk some necessary blows when needed.
Monta's the Man
I'm not a huge fan of Monta Ellis, but the statistics don't lie. He was a 20 point scorer in Golden State and Milwaukee and leads the Mavericks at 19.5 points per game. That said, Ellis is only averaging 9.8 points per game on 31.5% shooting from the field in his last 5 games. Expect Monta to bounce back. The NBA is an 82 game grind and Ellis has hit a rough patch. Look for a solid performance tonight against a team like the Raptors, who are one of the weaker teams defensively in the NBA.
Toronto has been the cold team as of late and the spread is low. I also love the addition of Amare Stoudemire for the Mavs as he's the perfect fit for them at this time in his career. Take the Mavs with your NBA picks as Dallas looks to give the Raptors their third consecutive loss, and make owner Marc Cuban a happy man.
NBA Pick: Dallas -4 at 5Dimes