Dallas Mavericks vs. New Orleans Hornets Preview and Pick

Dallas Mavericks (35-18) +2, 190 at New Orleans Hornets (36-15), 8 pm Eastern Wednesday
by Zman of Predictem.com

A couple of the key players in a very exciting Western Conference race tip-off their second halves of this season when the Dallas Mavericks (now with Jason Kidd) visit the New Orleans Hornets Wednesday night.

NBA betting boards have New Orleans listed as two-point home chalk for Wednesday’s game, with a total of 190. Also, the Hornets are posted at around -130 on the moneyline, with the Mavs getting +120 as road underdogs.

Dallas was finally able to pull off the trade that brings Kidd to town earlier this week, sending guard Devin Harris, others, draft picks and cash to New Jersey. And Kidd is expected to be in the lineup for the Mavs Wednesday night.

Kidd joins a Mavericks team that has lost three of its last four games. And yet Dallas is just two games back of first-place New Orleans in both the Southwest Division and Western Conference races. But the Mavericks are only three games ahead of 9th- place Golden State in the tightly packed West standings.

The Hornets, one of the most pleasant surprises in the league this season, have won four games in a row and 13 of their last 16, which has helped them forge a 1 1/2-game lead over San Antonio in the Southwest and a tie with Phoenix for the top spot in the West.

These two teams have split two meetings so far this season, with New Orleans winning 112-108 in OT Dec. 1 and Dallas winning 89-80 Dec. 17. But the Mavs swept four games from the Hornets last season. So over the last six meetings in the series between these two divisional rivals, Dallas is 5-1 straight up and 4-2 against the spread. Also, the o/u is 1-4-1 in those last six games, which have averaged just 178 total points, excluding the overtime period they played.

The Mavericks are just 21-29 against the spread this season. Also, a year after going 31-10 away from home, Dallas is just 12-15 straight up and 10-17 ATS on the road this season.

The Hornets are a nifty 31-18 vs. the numbers this season, 17-8 straight up and 14-11 ATS at home.

Statistically, as with their W/L records, these two teams are very similar. New Orleans ranks 6th in the league in point differential at +5.7 per game, the Mavs 8th at +3.9. Dallas ranks 4th in rebounding at +2.6 per game, the Hornets 7th at +2.0 And while the Mavericks are shooting 46% from the field, 34% from 3-point range and 82% from the free-throw line, New Orleans is shooting 46% from the floor, 39% from long range and 78% from the line.

And the Sagarin PREDICTOR ratings at USAToday.com rank the Hornets 4th at 95.8, Dallas 8th at 94.4. Sagarin’s current NBA home-court advantage figure is 3.0.

On the injury front, Josh Howard, who missed the Mavs’ last couple of games with a sore back, is listed as probable for Wednesday’s game. And Jerry Stackhouse, who’s got a bad hammy and has played very little in recent weeks, is listed as doubtful.

The o/u is 25-28 in Mavs games this season, which are averaging 195 total points, while the totals are 24-27 in New Orleans games, which are also averaging 195 points.

Zman’s Pick: New Orleans -3.