New Orleans Hornets vs. Dallas Mavericks
The Dallas Mavericks are 9-point home favorites tonight over the New Orleans Hornets.Â The over/under total for the game is set at 190 points.Â Both the Dallas Mavericks and New Orleans Hornets look to keep their foot on the gas pedal as the regular season concludes.
New Orleans can still move up to sixth or seventh place pending the outcome of the Memphis-Portland game tonight. Those two teams are just ahead of the Hornets in the standings, and New Orleans owns the tiebreaker with both squads. Chris Paul and co. need to really improve upon their recent play if they want to beat Dallas and move up from the eighth seed in the West. The last two games they have lost by double digits to Memphis and Utah respectively. The poor play cannot be attributed too much to the loss of leading scorer David West. Instead, it has been the defense that has let them down. The Grizzlies and Jazz shot over 55% against a Hornets defense that ranks in the top ten in defensive efficiency.
In some ways the Dallas Mavericks have turned into the higher-class version of New Orleans, a team that is stumbling a bit towards the finish line and is the preferred match-up of all the teams on one side of the playoff bracket. It’s true that Dallas has won three straight, but they are just 11-9 in their last 20 games and clearly hit their peak a little too early. The Mavs are plagued by the same issues that have deterred them in years past, not enough supporting players around Dirk Nowitzki that can create their own shots in the half-court.Â Nowitzki is dropping 30+ points on a regular basis, but there is still too much offensive pressure on him.Â Rodrigue Beaubois and Shawn Marions are going to have to step it up for the Mavericks to avoid another first-round playoff exit. Tonight will be a decent tune-up against a potentially very good defense.
The season series stands at 2-1 in favor of the Hornets, though the first two match-ups came way back in November. They have yet to play since the David West injury. There is no doubt that Dallas is the better team, as they are deeper and more well-rounded; however this New Orleans team is scrappy and are capable of making this game ugly. There is also the fact that the Mavericks have no one that stands a chance at covering Chris Paul. Nowitzki will give the Hornets problems as he gives every team problems. In the end, I think that New Orleans can play with Dallas given the way each team has played lately. They will likely come up short in the game, but are more than capable of keeping it to single digits.Â Take New Orleans plus the 9-points
New Orleans Hornets +9 Dallas Mavericks