Gaining Confidence

The Dallas Mavericks have struggled on the road, even against sub-.500 teams. The Philadelphia 76ers, meanwhile, are starting to gain confidence at home despite their poor record.

Losers of three of their last four road games, the Mavericks look to avoid yet another letdown as they conclude their season series with the 76ers on Monday night.

Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made Dallas –3.5 point spread favorites (NBA Odds) for today’s game, the over/under has been set at 187.5 total points (Matchup). Our public betting information shows that 86% of bets for this game have been placed on Dallas –3.5 (View NBA Bet Percentages).

Dallas (34-16) is within reach of the top spot in the Western Conference despite a 12-13 record away from American Airlines Center. Six of those losses have been to teams that currently have losing records, including a 101-82 defeat against New Jersey on Sunday night. It was the second-largest margin of defeat for the Mavericks.

"We haven't played well on the road all season," said Dallas star Dirk Nowitzki, who had 21 points on 4-of-16 shooting versus the Nets. "We have to get back to playing well on the road."

The Mavericks shot 36.5 percent (31-for-85) from the field, including 2-of-18 from 3-point range, as their three-game winning streak ended Sunday.

Playing without top reserve Jerry Stackhouse didn't help. The veteran forward, averaging 9.8 points, missed Sunday's contest because of a hamstring injury.

Stackhouse returned to Dallas' lineup in a win over Memphis on Friday after missing seven straight games, but coach Avery Johnson decided not to risk further injury after the forward said the hamstring was tight Sunday. Stackhouse's status for Monday's game is uncertain.

"If the recovery is not good and we feel there is some danger we'll sit him down and that's what we are doing," said Johnson, who has also been without point guard Devin Harris (ankle) for seven straight games.

Starting center Erick Dampier, meanwhile, returned to the lineup Sunday after missing the Grizzlies game with a sprained right ankle. He finished with four points in 11 minutes.

Dallas will need a healthy and motivated lineup against a Philadelphia team that has won three straight, all at home. The Sixers (21-30) have a chance to match their longest winning streak of the season, set from Dec. 7-12.

A more aggressive offense has sparked Philadelphia's run, with the team placing more emphasis on defense and getting out in the open court. The Sixers have topped the 100-point mark in each of their last three games, and six of their last seven.

"When we get in the open court we are just a lot more effective and we get easier shots," said 76ers coach Maurice Cheeks, whose team is averaging 98.2 points its last 13 games after scoring 93.1 per game the first 38 contests. "Our fast break points stand out. It's been a major factor in our wins so far."

The Sixers shot 52.6 percent from the field in a 101-80 win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday night. The Clippers, meanwhile, were held to 40.5 percent shooting (30-for-74).

Samuel Dalembert, having a career season, has helped Philadelphia's up-tempo offense by providing a strong defensive presence in the paint. He is averaging 11.2 points, 9.9 rebounds and 2.5 blocks a contest.

"It starts with Sam on defense," Sixers point guard Andre Miller said. "Sam's defense has been great and we've been able to get the ball and run."

Philadelphia, though, shot just 40.2 percent (33-for-82) from the field in a 99-84 loss to Dallas on Nov. 13, its fourth straight loss to the Mavericks.

By: Marc Young - theSpread.com - Email Us

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