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Return of injured NBA stars will impact December spreads

Dallas Mavericks fans got some bad news Friday. It looks like star forward Dirk Nowitzki, who was expected to return from knee surgery in mid December, won’t be ready to go until the New Year.

The Mavericks have missed the sharp-shooting 7-footer, going 9-10 SU and 8-11 ATS to start the season. Dallas ranks 13th in scoring (98.3 ppg) while allowing an average of 100.4 points against (21st in the NBA).

Mike Perry of Sportsbook.ag says Nowitzki is worth about 2.5 points to the spread, so bettors can expect a noticeable jump in the Mavs’ odds whenever he does return.

“He’s starting to hit the downslide of his career but he still can go for 30 points and eight rebounds any night and no one would be surprised,” Perry told Covers.

Nowitzki isn’t the only All-Star player missing in action. Here are five notable contributors ready to return in December that will have a major impact on their teams’ spreads:

Kyrie Irving, Cleveland Cavaliers


Cleveland’s star guard has been cleared to practice but the team doesn’t expect him back until mid to late December while he recovers from a fractured left index finger. The Cavaliers have struggled without Irving leading the charge, going 2-7 SU (5-4 ATS).

“He not only dishes the ball well, but he is a great scorer,” says Perry, who puts Irving’s worth to the spread at three points.

Ricky Rubio, Minnesota Timberwolves


Rubio is a major piece of the puzzle for a promising roster in Minnesota, worth two points to the spread according to Perry. He missed the last part of the lockout-shortened schedule after blowing out his knee and has yet to take the floor this season.

However, his workouts are going well and the Spaniard could be back on the floor as soon as Friday’s game versus Cleveland. Getting Rubio back would be a big boost to an injury-plagued Timberwolves team, which has started the year 8-9 SU and 10-7 ATS.

“He doesn’t score nearly as much as Irving, but will be the NBA leader in assists for many years to come,” says Perry.

Andrew Bynum, Philadelphia 76ers


Bynum was one of the featured pieces of the Dwight Howard deal, landing in Philadelphia this summer. Since then, he’s grown an insane afro, been in and out of trouble and has yet to play a single game in a Sixers uniform thanks to lingering knee issues.

The most action he’s seen since the trade was at a Dave & Buster’s this week. Bynum, an elite shot blocker and steady inside scorer, is currently listed as out indefinitely but could be back as soon as late December. That's if Philadelphia doesn't just wash its hands of Bynum and deal him.

“He’s a tough matchup for many teams, but he often disappears in games,” says Perry, who puts Bynum’s value to the spread at 1.5 points.

Steve Nash, Los Angeles Lakers

The Lakers are holding their breath and their tongues until Nash returns, hoping the two-time MVP can bring some stability to the most erratic team in the NBA. He is expected to return by the end of the month.

Nash, who Perry estimates is worth 1.5 points to the spread, played just over 50 minutes in the purple and gold before going down with a leg injury and has watched L.A. implode for a 9-8 SU (8-9 ATS) record since. The plan is Nash, along with former Suns coach Mike D’Antoni, will bring balance to the Lakers and get them on the right track before Christmas Day.

“Nash looked awful earlier this season, but was that because he was injured. Or is he still trying to get used to new team?” asks Perry.

Amar’e Stoudemire, New York Knicks


The Knicks are doing just fine without Stoudemire on the blocks. New York is a bountiful 12-6 ATS (14-4 SU) to start the year, waiting for Stoudemire to return after injuring his fragile left knee in the preseason. He’s targeting Christmas Day as his return.

His absence has shed light on the fact that Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony can’t co-exist in the same offense. Anthony has thrived without “Stat” stealing touches, averaging 26.4 points – his highest output since joining the Knicks. Trade rumors have even begun to swirl around Stoudemire.

“(Stoudemire is) another guy who has regressed quickly,” says Perry, who prices Amar’e at 1 point to the spread. “But now that the Knicks are vastly improved and deeper, he could see his stats increase from 2011.”

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