March 3, 2013
By Kevin Rogers
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The Sunday NBA card is filled with action starting with the Knicks and Heat early in the afternoon followed by the Thunder and Clippers in Los Angeles. We'll take a look at three of they key night matchups, including the Lakers and Hawks at Staples Center, while the Bulls and Pacers hook up in a key Central Division battle. A game that involves two Texas rivals begins this preview as both clubs are in reverse roles this season.
Mavericks at Rockets - 7:05 PM EST
Dallas has plenty of ground to make up in the Western Conference playoff race as the Mavs begin Sunday's action five games behind the Rockets for the eighth and final playoff spot. The Mavs have taken care of business against their cross-state foes twice this season, including a 116-109 victory at the Toyota Center in December as six-point underdogs.
Rick Carlisle's club bounced back from Wednesday's meltdown at Memphis to top Brooklyn on Friday, 98-90 to snap a three-game skid. Dallas is on fire covering numbers on the highway by posting a 12-2 ATS record the last 14 road contests. The Mavs have limited three straight opponents to 95 points or less, while cashing the 'under' in four consecutive games.
The Rockets escaped Orlando on Friday night with a 118-110 triumph, but failed to cash as nine-point road favorites. Houston's five-game home winning streak came to a screeching halt in Wednesday's buzzer-beating loss to Milwaukee, but the Rockets have won six of their last nine home games against Western Conference opponents. The Rockets look to end a nine-game losing skid to the Mavericks that dates back to November 2010, while Dallas has cashed in seven straight meetings.
Bulls at Pacers - 8:05 PM EST
These two teams will battle it out for the Central Division title when all is said and done, as Indiana holds a three-game advantage over Chicago. The Bulls head to Indiana with no rest following Saturday's home victory over Brooklyn, while winning consecutive games for the first time since late January. However, Chicago is playing with double-revenge after getting tripped up twice by Indiana.
The Pacers held off the Bulls at the United Center in early December as four-point underdogs, 80-76. Each team shot below 38% from the floor, while Paul George torched the Chicago defense with 34 points. Indiana topped Chicago again at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on February 4 in a make-up game after getting postponed in December due to bad weather in the area. Frank Vogel's club outlasted the Bulls in a run-and-gun contest as the Pacers topped the Bulls as 5 ½-point 'chalk,' 111-101.
Indiana has won six of its past seven games following Friday's road victory at Toronto, while picking up its sixth cover in this stretch. The Bulls have been up and down on the highway recently by splitting its last 10 games away from the Windy City, while cashing the 'under' in four of their last five road contests. After going through a nice stretch as a road underdog, the Bulls own a below average 2-4 ATS record the past six opportunities when receiving points away from home.
Hawks at Lakers - 9:35 PM EST
Los Angeles is that close to reaching the .500 mark, as the Lakers would improve to 30-30 on the season with a victory over the Hawks. It's been an uphill climb for the Purple and Gold, who has won 12 of the last 17 games, including seven of the previous eight contests at Staples Center. The Lakers will face an Atlanta squad that saw its four-game winning streak halted in a surprising setback at Phoenix on Friday night as short favorites.
The Hawks play the fifth of a six-game road trip after winning three of the first four contests. Atlanta pulled off outright 'dog victories at Milwaukee and Utah, while routing Detroit as short favorites. However, the Hawks pulled up lame in a 92-87 defeat to the Suns, the lowest point total for Atlanta since scoring 76 points against Chicago on February 2. In spite of the loss, Larry Drew's team owns a 5-1 SU/ATS record the last six road games.
The Lakers drilled the short-handed Timberwolves, 116-94 on Thursday as 10-point favorites, while topping the 100-point mark for the sixth straight game. L.A. has hit the 'over' in four of five contests since the All-Star break, including all three games at home. Mike D'Antoni's club has put together a 7-4 SU record at home against Eastern Conference opponents, but the Lakers have covered just five times.
You can reach Kevin Rogers via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
Kevin Rogers can be followed on Twitter at virogers.
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