Jason’s record on his early NBA picks for 2013-14, up to April 11 inclusive:
Before we get to business, please allow me to take care of some business. On Friday night, the Miami Heat beat the Indiana Pacers 98-86. My pick for this game was UNDER 207.5, based on the one basketball line that was available, at Heritage. It seemed way too high at the time, and as it turned out, their overnight line was indeed an anomaly. The total was widely available at 182.5 points the following morning before dropping to 181.5 at the official close.
I am counting Friday’s result as a “win” for my running NBA betting tally. That 207.5-point total was up there on the odds board for well over 24 hours, and it’s still visible in our lines history as we go to press. Anyone could have bet it, and maybe some of you did. You’re welcome. Now let’s see if there are any bargains available for Saturday’s big matchup between the Phoenix Suns and the Dallas Mavericks.
Well, perhaps there will be some bargains by the time you read this, but for now, the NBA lines for this contest (8:30 p.m. ET, NBA-TV) are off the board. And I’m guessing it has to do with Goran Dragic (21.17 PER). He was a late scratch in Friday’s critical 112-104 loss to the San Antonio Spurs (–4 at home), the victim of a sprained ankle that got progressively worse before tip-off. The buzz during the game was that Dragic would play on Saturday.
That would be prudent. With Friday’s defeat, Phoenix (47-32 SU, 50-28-1 ATS) falls to ninth place in the Western Conference, holding the same record as the No. 8 Memphis Grizzlies with three games remaining. Dallas (48-32 SU, 43-37 ATS) is a half-game ahead in seventh place after Thursday’s 109-100 loss to the same Spurs (+1.5 away). Both the Suns and Mavericks will get the chance to play Memphis, but first, they must play one another.
Obviously, the key storyline here is whether or not Dragic plays. When these two teams first met on Dec. 21, the Suns had both Dragic and Eric Bledsoe (19.2 PER) in the lineup as they thumped Dallas (+2.5 away) 123-108. But on Jan. 17, Bledose was out with a torn right knee, and the Mavericks (–1.5 at home) prevailed 110-107. Both guards have been excellent this year, and Phoenix would no doubt have wrapped up a playoff spot long ago had both guards been healthy all season.
The Suns have still done quite well for themselves when shorthanded. Gerald Green (16.4 PER) is one of several feel-good stories in the desert, and he had another strong game against San Antonio with 27 points on 9-of-19 shooting. However, the Phoenix bench doesn’t have another Gerald Green to throw out there when Dragic or Bledsoe is injured. Leandro Barbosa (11.5 PER) has a broken hand, and Ish Smith (11.5 PER) has changed teams six times since joining the league in 2010.
While we wait for confirmation on Dragic’s status, there’s not much injury concern in the Dallas dressing room. Many of the veterans are playing through pain and discomfort, though, including Dirk Nowitzki (23.6 PER), who was seen doing some extra stretching while on the sidelines during the loss to San Antonio. Monta Ellis (16.7 PER) also has a bruised tailbone, and Shawn Marion (13.8 PER) has a sore right foot. But all three gentlemen played well enough against the Spurs, and they had a day of rest Friday where the Suns (save for Dragic) didn’t. I’ll buy that for a dollar.
Special update: Dallas has opened at –5 with a total of 214.
NBA Pick: Take the Mavericks –5 (–104) at Marathon