Dallas and San Antonio have already met twice this season, with the Spurs dominating Dallas on both occasions. However, both games were against a Mavs team that had Dirk Nowitzki on a minute’s restriction.
Nowitzki played in both of those games, but the first one was his season debut, and he only played 20 minutes, while the other was only a week later, and he played 23 minutes. Now that Dirk is back in prime form, how will his presence have an effect on tonight’s game? It obviously will, but how much is the question that needs to be answered before we lock in our NBA picks for this Lone Star State matchup.
Spurs undervalued and banged up
The NBA Odds for this game are very late coming out, as Tim Duncan is most likely the reason. Duncan did not travel with the team to Dallas because of a sore left knee he has been dealing with. Without Duncan, the Spurs will be missing their man in the middle, and will likely give more minutes to Tiago Splitter, Boris Diaw and DeJuan Blair.
Also for the Spurs, Kawhai Leonard did travel with the team to Dallas, but he is questionable for tonight’s game as well. Leonard is also dealing with a knee issue, and what is being called a bruised patella tendon. Leonard missed San Antonio’s game on Wednesday with the same injury, and at this point, I think we have to consider him a game time decision. That’s two San Antonio starters that could miss the game, and I expect the line to reflect that, despite two blowout wins by the Spurs in their last two meetings.
The line is probably late coming out because the books are awaiting word from the shoot around If Leonard doesn’t play along with Duncan, that is going to put a big hole in the Spurs’ front court. Leonard was likely going to be called upon to guard Dirk for most of the night, and is he can’t go, I bet his absence or presence is going to be worth a couple of points in the spread.
Mavs regaining what was lost
Dallas has quietly won five of their last six games, and a win tonight could propel them back into the playoff picture out West, which has gotten a bit more compelling recently. Dallas is getting their wins with consistently good offense. In their last six games, Dallas has dropped over 100 points in all six games, averaging 111 points per game in that stretch.
Granted, two of those six games went into overtime, but the premise still remains. Dallas still can’t play any defense, as they still giving up over 100 points per game, but if their offense can pick up, they will be playoff contenders this season. With the possibility of two Spurs starters sitting out, the Mavs must like their chances in this one.
The Sharp Pick
The NBA Odds first came out to favor the Spurs on the road by -2 ½, but that was almost instantly dropped a full point to -1 ½ road favorites. Without knowing the status of Leonard, and knowing that Duncan is out for this one, I actually like the Mavs in this one at +1 ½. Nowitzki is playing much better, and the balance in scoring on the Mavs right now is very good.
I think the Mavs will have some revenge in mind tonight from their last two losses to this team, and being at home will only add to the fire. The injurie reports all push things in favor of Dallas, and I see no better option for my sports picks than backing the Mavs to cover.
My Pick: Mavs +1 ½