Dallas Mavericks vs. Phoenix Suns Preview and Pick

Dallas Mavericks (35-17) +7, 205 at Phoenix Suns (36-16), 10:30 pm Eastern Thursday, TNT
by Zman of Predictem.com

Two of the key players in the Western Conference playoff race will go at it when the Dallas Mavericks visit the Phoenix Suns for the late-nightcap of an NBA/TNT double-header Thursday evening.

NBA betting boards list Phoenix as a seven-point home favorite for Thursday’s game, with a total of 205. The Suns are also posted at around -330 on various Vegas moneylines, with Dallas getting around +260 as road underdogs.

Dallas, as you might have heard, is on the verge of making a deal that would bring guard Jason Kidd to Big D and send, among others, Devin Harris, Jerry Stackhouse and Devean George to New Jersey. But the deal has been held up, and hadn’t gone through as of early Thursday afternoon. Nonetheless, the Mavericks roster will be in a bit of a flux Thursday night. Harris and Stackhouse were already out of action because of injuries, and George had a terrible game Wednesday night.

Also, forward Josh Howard (20 points, seven rebounds per game this season) is very questionable with a sore back, and center Erick Dampier, who’s missed some recent action because of a bad ankle, is again listed as questionable for Thursday’s game.

Phoenix, as you also might have heard, made a pretty big deal last week, trading Shawn Marion to Miami for Shaquille O’Neal. But the Big Aristotle probably won’t play for the Suns until after the All-Star break.

Dallas pounded Portland Wednesday 96-76, but is just 4-4 over its last eight games. The Mavs sit in second place in the Southwest Division, a game and a half back of the first-place New Orleans Hornets. Dallas also owns the three-spot in the tightly packed Western Conference standings.

Phoenix lost at Golden State Wednesday 120-118, and is now just 3-3 over its last six games. Still, the Suns lead the Pacific Division by a game over the second-place Los Angeles Lakers, and sit in the two slot in the West, just a half-game back of the conference-leading Hornets.

Neither of these teams has been all that great to their financial backers this season. The Mavs are 21-27 against the spread with several pushes while Phoenix is 23-28 vs. the numbers.

Also, Dallas owns one of the biggest home/road discrepancies in the league. The Mavericks are 23-3 in Big D, but just 12-14 straight up and 9-16 ATS on the road.

The Suns, meanwhile, are 19-6 SU but just 9-16 vs. the numbers at home.

Dallas won the first meeting this season between these two teams 108-105 back in December in Texas. The Mavs led by 17 after the first quarter, but Phoenix came back on the strength of a 52% shooting performance from the floor. Ultimately, a 49-35 advantage on the boards aided the Dallas effort toward the victory. Also, the game managed to stay under its total of 215 by a basket.

These two teams split four games last season. So over those last five meetings in the series between these two teams, the o/u has gone 3-2, and the games have averaged 219 total points, excluding an overtime period they played last season.

Phoenix ranks 5th in the league in point differential at +5.7 per game, Dallas 8th at +4.3.

Both of these teams are among the most efficient in the league at putting the ball in the hole. Dallas is shooting 46% from the field this season, 34% from 3-point range and a league-leading 82% from the free-throw line, while Phoenix is shooting a league-leading 49% from the floor, 38% from beyond the arc and 80% from the line.

But while the Mavs rank 5th in the league in rebounding at +2.5 boards per game, the Suns rank dead last at -5.6 per game.

The Sagarin PREDICTOR ratings at USAToday.com ranks Phoenix 7th at 94.7, Dallas 8th at 94.6. Sagarin’s current NBA home-court advantage figure is 3.0.

The o/u is 24-27 in Mavericks games this season, which are averaging 194 total points, while the totals are 27-24 in Suns games, which are averaging 214 points.

Zman’s Pick: Take the OVER 204.5.