Mavs Battle Pistons

The Dallas Mavericks and the Detroit Pistons have learned a lot about playing second fiddle this season. Thanks to its recent surge, however, Dallas might not be toiling in the shadows much longer.

Looking to claim a share of the Southwest Division lead for the first time in two months, the Mavericks go for their season high-tying fifth straight win on Wednesday when they host the Pistons - the second-best team in the Eastern Conference.

Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made Dallas –2.5 point spread favorites (NBA Odds) for today’s game, the over/under has been set at 189 total points (Matchup). Our public betting information shows that 57% of bets for this game have been placed on Detroit +2.5 (View NBA Bet Percentages).

Dallas had the league's best record last season at 67-15, while Detroit led the East with 53 wins.

This season, however, the Mavericks (23-11) have yielded Southwest supremacy to the reigning NBA champion San Antonio Spurs, while the Pistons (26-8) have taken a back seat to the new-look Boston Celtics in the East.

The Mavericks, though, can erase their half-game deficit and reclaim a share of the division lead for the first time since they were 4-1 on Nov. 8 with a win against Detroit. New Orleans, tied with Dallas for second place, can also take advantage of the idle Spurs on Wednesday as it hosts the Los Angeles Lakers.

Dallas has made its run by winning nine of its last 11 games, including its last four. The Mavericks outscored Minnesota 58-35 in the first half of their 101-78 win on Sunday - their second consecutive victory over a team in last place in its conference.

"We didn't want to play to the level of our competition," Dallas forward Josh Howard told the team's official Web site.

While Dallas has taken advantage of lesser opponents - it beat lowly Miami on Friday - the schedule wasn't as kind to Detroit in its last outing.

The Pistons had their 11-game win streak snapped with a 92-85 home loss to Boston on Saturday. They're downplaying the significance of the defeat, which dropped them four games behind the Celtics.

"They're a little more happy than we were when we won our game at their place," Detroit point guard Chauncey Billups said, referring to the Pistons' 87-85 victory in Boston on Dec. 19. "It was just a regular game for us with two good teams playing. They were kind of playing like it was the Super Bowl.

"There was probably a little more at stake for them and their psyche than it was for us."

The Pistons will have to deal with another good team in the Mavericks, who are playing better lately thanks in part to the resurgence of Dirk Nowitzki. The sharpshooting forward got off to a slow start, scoring less than 20 points in 11 of his first 24 games, but lately has played more like he did during his MVP season in 2006-07.

"I felt like early on, I was looking around too much for what was going to happen," said Nowitzki, averaging 25.6 points and 9.2 rebounds in his last 10 games. "I was waiting on the double team too much and I wasn't really being aggressive. Over the last couple of weeks, I've found a good mix of when my shot is there. And when it's not there, move (the ball)."

Nowitzki averaged 28.5 points and 10.5 rebounds while shooting 57.1 percent from the field against Detroit as the teams split last season's series.

The Pistons won in Dallas last season, and have gone 9-1 in their last 10 road games.

The Mavericks, meanwhile, are 16-3 at American Airlines Center.

By: Marc Young - - Email Us

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