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NBA: Dallas at Boston (8:05 PM ET, TNT)
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The greatest fear GM Danny Ainge had to have after acquiring Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen was the fear one or both could get injured. Well, his fears have been realized, as the Boston Celtics face the Dallas Mavericks tonight with both players on the bench.
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Ray Allen is the lesser of the two problems, as he has the flu and will get better each day. Garnett, on the other hand, has a strained abdominal muscle and has missed the last two games. The Celtics would love to have Garnett in the lineup but are not willing to rush him back onto the court.
“If he can play Thursday, we’ll play him,” coach Doc Rivers said. “But again, it’s got to be almost 100 percent. That’s the way I look at those types of injuries.”
Boston has been set as 2 ½-point favorites . They have not been as potent as they were early in the season with 4-9-1 ATS record against teams with winning record in last 14 outings.
Dallas has been hotter than the HBO show “The Wire”, winning 12 of last 14 games, with an 8-5-1 ATS record. This has propelled the Mavericks into second place in the Southwest Division, only trailing the equally sizzling New Orleans Hornets by just one game.
Dallas will also have a thin roster, with starting point guard Devin Harris expected to miss at least 2-3 weeks with a bone bruise on his left ankle. Jerry Stackhouse, one of the team’s top reserves, was sidelined Monday with a strained right hamstring and is considered day-to-day.
From a competition standpoint, this is a rugged four game swing for Dallas. After shooting over 53 percent and whipping Memphis by 19 points on the road, starting tonight, they have to play all three Eastern Conference division leaders – Boston, Detroit and Orlando.
“It’s going to be a tough trip,” said forward Dirk Nowitzki. “Boston is the best team right now in the league. Best record. We all know what Detroit is like at home. They’re tough to beat. It’s going to be a fun trip. Very tough.”
Nowitzki’s comments are well founded, as the Mavericks have failed to cover 11 of last 14 road games against teams with winning home records.
Dallas will have the benefit of playing with two days off and is 25-11 ATS in the process. The Mavs are 9-12 ATS on the road and will take on the NBA’s best defensive team in Boston, who allows 88.2 PPG. Amazingly, this could work to there benefit as Dallas is 27-10 ATS versus good defensive teams surrendering 91or fewer points a game.
Fully manned or not, Boston is 36-15 ATS after breaking the century mark in scoring. The Celtics also have a little extra against opponents who have scored 100 or more points in last game, covering almost 75 percent of the time at 23-8 ATS.
TNT will use this intriguing encounter for its usual Thursday night action, starting at 8 pm ET. Boston is 5-2 ATS playing the night before the weekend starts, with Dallas desultory 1-6 ATS the same evening.
NBA Free Picks: StatFox Power Line indicates Boston -6. However, with the injuries affecting the contest, be sure to follow the Live Odds and Betting Trends pages to keep up with the latest info.
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