After Jermaine O`Neal publicly bashed the Pacers management, team-mates and an effort the team brings to their games Indiana has won 3 games in a row. But don’t jump with your conclusions as those 3 wins came against the weak teams. Indiana beat the Hornets 100-93 (team with horrific injury problems), overcame the Hawks 91-72 (one of the weakest teams in the league) and also the Celtics 97-84 (without Pierce, Szczerbiak and losing Allen to an season ending injury in that game). So this 3-0 run means almost nothing when they will meet a team with the best winning record tonight. Most of the O`Neal`s frustration came from the previous game against the Mavs a week ago. Indiana was able to keep the game close until the last quarter, when Dallas took over at clutchtime. Being under the pressure the Pacers committed 5 last quarter turnovers and lost the game 91-100.
With a record of 29-8 the Mavs are clearly a different quality here. They have won 15 of their last 16 games, they take care of their weaker opponents early in the game and with their depth and demanding head-coach Avery Johnson, they rarely allow opponents to make a run. Having an easy game against the Blazers and one game to rest they should be as fit as ever to meet the Pacers.
For us this game is no-brainer. The Mavs are clearly a better team here and the Pacers, though coming from 3-0 streak, will struggle much the same as a week ago. There is no question IF, but WHEN will the Mavs put the “pedal to the metal” and pull away. We think it will happen early in the game and Dallas wont have any problems to cover the spread. Medium+ stakes.
read other analyses from www.nbatip.com