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NBA Mavericks at Cavaliers

March 21, 2007

NBA Basketball - Dallas Mavericks (-3, 186) at Cleveland Cavs 8:00 PM EST

Dallas won their straight game and covered the spread for the first time in five games with a light's out performance in the second half against New York in 92-77 win. The Mavericks held the Knicks to 13 points in the third quarter and were never threaten after that. Now the longest road trip of the season continues against a one of the hottest teams in the East in Cleveland.

LeBron JamesThe Cavaliers were caught presumably looking ahead and were knocked off at Charlotte. This ended Cleveland's eight game winning streak and maybe equally damaging were extended to overtime in the encounter.

Instead of bubbling over with excitement, the feelings are more tempered after frustrating loss. "We gave ourselves a chance to win at the end of regulation, and I didn't come through for the team," said LeBron James, who scored 30 of his 37 points after halftime. "We had a lot of unforced errors at the end of the game and we paid for it." The loss ended another steak in which the Cavs had not lost a lined game in ten consecutive attempts. The loss leaves Cleveland three games back of Detroit in the loss column trying to chase them down for top spot in the Eastern Conference.

James is among the most explosive players in the NBA and Dallas will be short-handed in their attempt to guard. Devean George is out with a sore right knee and Greg Buckner has sprained left knee. Neither is expected to make it go against Cleveland exposing other less skilled defenders to take on James.

LeBron has had his way with whoever has guarded him anyways from the Mavs with 39.5 points per game in his last four outings against Dallas. "LeBron is tough to guard - so strong, so talented," Dallas swingman Jerry Stackhouse said. "We all had an emphasis on trying to slow him down and he still almost had 40."

While Cleveland tries to hunt down the Pistons, it is interesting to note the Cavs are less an underdog at home then Detroit was. LeBron's squad is a two-point home underdog compared to the Pistons being a 5-point dog three days prior at sportsbook.com. The reasoning is pretty simple with the Cavaliers owning the best home record in the East at 26-8 (18-15-1 ATS), compared the Detroit paltry 19-13 mark.

Cleveland gave Dallas quite a battle during the Mavericks 17-game winning streak, losing 95-92 as 9.5-point road dogs. A 7-14 50% effort from the free throw line doomed Coach Mike Brown's club to failure.

With Cleveland's inconsistencies from the charity stripe, the Mavs are 13-4 ATS in road games vs. poor free throw shooting teams making 71% or less of their attempts.

The Cavs have been dynamic in the second half of the year with 10-2 ATS record versus good offensive teams scoring 99+ points a game after half the season is completed.

Both these teams are in the top five in fewest points allowed and Mark Cuban's club is 11-1 and 8-4 ATS without rest, while the James gang is just 8-9 and 5-10-2 against the spread with zero days off.

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