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Mavericks vs. Heat Pick NBA – January 1st

The Clippers completed a perfect five-game road trip without Blake Griffin (no, they aren’t better off without Blake long-term) thanks to yet another explosive offensive performance from JJ Reddick against the New Orleans Pelicans. The win also snapped our brief yet unpleasant slide allowing us to head to the new year on a winning note.

However, the game that most caught my attention yesterday was Golden State, going into Houston on the back-end of a back to back without Steph Curry, fresh on the heels of a blowout loss in Dallas… and WINNING. Perhaps it is simply the “why on earth are you betting real money on knowing which team you are going to get tonight?” nature of the Rockets, or perhaps it was a triple-double from Draymond (definitely an All Star) and 38 from Klay (ditto, despite lower numbers this season). Either way, the Warriors are now 30-2, having survived a game they had NO business winning. Now, presumably, Steph returns to continue the assault on history.

Let’s ring in the New Year with a winner on a pretty solid day of NBA games.

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Today’s Free Pick:

Dallas Mavericks at Miami Heat -3.5

We spent most of 2015 waiting for the Mavericks to regress into the Lottery-bound team most projected them to be. At this point, it appears that is not going to happen. Dirk is still getting it done, despite being at an age where great players begin to get mocked for their seniority (Kobe, Paul Pierce, Garnett – all contemporaries) and they are getting solid years out of a resurgent Derron Williams and Wesley Matthews. They are also getting double-digits from Zaza Pachulia and JJ Barrea… wait, how in the HELL is this team winning??

Oh yeah, Rick Carlisle. My easy vote for NBA Coach of the Year has kept a limited roster competitive and has surprised not just me and their fans, but also Vegas. They are a tidy 20-12 ATS on the season and have won and covered four straight games.

Meanwhile, Miami was supposed to be good. Maybe really good. And that is what makes the fact that they have been “good” feel so underwhelming. Every time you think this team has turned the corner, they take a lethargic step backwards. The beat the Pels on Christmas Day and head to Orlando the next night and win. Then they turn around and lose at home to Brooklyn and at Memphis. On paper, this Miami roster is SO MUCH better than the Mavericks. On the court? Meh.

There are some health questions tonight that may merit resolution before you officially follow or fade my pick. Justice Winslow is questionable for Miami and Derron Williams is questionable for Dallas. Assuming both play, I’m in on Dallas. They are just more reliable and have covered 9 of their last 11 games against the Heat. Assuming Wiliams is OUT and Winslow is IN, I’m less psyched about Dallas, though still not averse to getting points. Chandler Parsons is finally showing signs of being the second/third option Dallas desperately needs long-term. He has averaged 11/5/5 in Dallas’s last five games in limited minutes.

At the end of the day, Dallas has just been a MUCH better value all season. They beat good teams and are competitive in losses. When wagering on Miami, you also have the “fifty point fear swing” – meaning they could win by 25 or lose by 25 on any given night regardless of the opponent if they play to their floor or ceiling, which they seem to vary between more than most teams (aside from the Rockets). So there is always a little risk of looking foolish betting against Miami.

But there is also a nice chance for a payday. They are just 12-15 ATS on the season and 2-5 in their last seven home games, which includes outright losses to Brooklyn, Detroit and Toronto.

Free Pick: Dallas Mavericks +3.5