Mavericks Face Essentially A Must-Win Tuesday At Lakers
The calendar says the NBA playoffs don't begin for about three weeks, but in reality the postseason almost starts Tuesday night for the Dallas Mavericks. Their game at the Los Angeles Lakers will have live play-by-play betting at the book.
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The Mavs enter this week at No. 10 in the Western Conference, 1.5 games behind No. 8 Utah and the No. 9 Lakers. Dallas already has lost the season series to Utah so it would lose that potential head-to-head tiebreaker if it came down to those two for the final playoff spot. Tuesday is the final regular-season meeting between the Mavericks and the Lakers. Los Angeles has taken two of the first three, so a victory Tuesday would clinch the potential tiebreaker. Should the Mavs win, a potential tiebreaker against the Lakers would be the record within the Western Conference. The Lakers are 21-23 against the West (as is Utah) and the Mavs are 19-24.
The good news for Dallas is that Dirk Nowitzki is back playing at a superstar level after missing the first 27 games of the season due to injury. The German was a stellar 14-for-17 from the field for 35 points, including the game-winning three-pointer against the Chicago Bulls on Saturday. Nowitzki has hit at least 50% of his shots in eight-straight games. In March, he averaged 20.0 points on 53.3% shooting, including 48.3% from three-point range. Dallas went 11-5 in the month to climb back into the playoff picture.
The Lakers, who would lose the tiebreaker as things currently stand against Utah, are banged up. Metta World Peace will miss the rest of the regular season with a knee injury. Kobe Bryant has a bone spur in his left foot but has been playing through it. Steve Nash has a hip injury and was able to play just two minutes Saturday against the Kings, a game in which Bryant passed Wilt Chamberlain for fourth on the NBA's all-time scoring list. Nash is questionable for Tuesday's game.
Tis The Season To Rest Stars
Also available for Live Betting Tuesday is Knicks at Heat, and it means literally nothing for Miami. The Heat have clinched the top seed in the Eastern Conference, and Sunday's win over San Antonio gave Miami a three-game lead for the best overall record in the NBA – and clinched the season series with the Spurs should that become a home-court tiebreaker in the NBA Finals.
Miami coach Erik Spoelstra pulled a "Popovich" by resting starters LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Mario Chalmers against the Spurs on Sunday, essentially ruining what for a while looked like the most anticipated regular-season game of the year. The Heat still pulled the upset thanks to a late Chris Bosh three-pointer. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich had rested his three best players when San Antonio visited Miami earlier this season. Spoelstra said he wasn't paying that back by resting LeBron and D-Wade on Sunday, but you can be assured that both would have played through their "injuries" if it was a meaningful game. Spoelstra would only say that he's taking a day-by-day approach to resting James, Wade and Bosh the rest of the regular season, but expect it to happen more often than not. However, Spoelstra isn't likely to do it at home. The Heat finished March at 17-1, the most wins by a team in a calendar month in NBA history. (Spurs star Manu Ginobili missed Sunday's game with a hamstring injury and Popovich seems likely to rest him the remainder of the regular season to ensure full health for the postseason.)
The Knicks, meanwhile, have the longest winning streak in the NBA at eight in a row (7-1 ATS) to all but clinch the Atlantic Division title. New York is still battling Indiana for the No. 2 seed in the East. The Knicks haven't won a division title since the 1993-94 season. The surprising thing is that the Knicks are winning without reigning NBA Defensive Player of the Year Tyson Chandler, who has a neck injury. He could return for Tuesday's game after sitting out the past 10. Kenyon Martin is shooting nearly 70% from the field starting in Chandler's place. The Knicks were 12-6 in March, their most wins in a month since March 1994.
Those Knicks are also featured on Live Betting Wednesday when they visit the Atlanta Hawks in what could be a first-round playoff preview. Atlanta will be without a key piece for the rest of the season as center Zaza Pachulia will undergo surgery on his right Achilles. He had started 15 games this year and averaged 5.9 points and 6.5 rebounds. He hadn't played since March 3.
Also for Live Betting Wednesday is Grizzlies at Trail Blazers. Memphis is fighting Denver and the Los Angeles Clippers for home-court advantage in the first round of the West playoffs. Grizzlies center Marc Gasol was supposed to miss extended time with an abdominal tear but missed only two games.
Portland is struggling and simply playing out the string, but expect a close game Wednesday. The last five games between Portland and Memphis have been decided by six points or fewer. Memphis’ win over the Trail Blazers in Portland on March 12 snapped a three-game winning streak for Portland over the Grizzlies at the Rose Garden.
Check back Thursday for a weekend Live Betting preview at the book.
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