USA Today Sports

NBA doubleheader: Knicks at Heat, Mavericks at Lakers

New York Knicks at Miami Heat (-2.5, 196.5)

The New York Knicks have the longest active winning streak in the NBA, but they'll need a ninth consecutive victory when they travel to Miami for a showdown with the Heat on Tuesday if they want to lay claim to the title of the league's hottest team. The Knicks will try to claim the season series from the Heat and move one step closer to locking up the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. New York is one percentage point behind the second-place Indiana Pacers and is 11 1/2 games behind Miami.

The Heat have won 29 of 30 — and 17 straight at home — after winning 88-86 at San Antonio on Sunday despite playing without stars LeBron James (hamstring) and Dwyane Wade (ankle) and starting point guard Mario Chalmers (ankle). All three are expected to sit out again Tuesday. The Knicks might be without All-Star center Tyson Chandler, who is listed as questionable after missing the past 10 games with a bulging disc.

TV: 8 p.m. ET, TNT

ABOUT THE KNICKS (46-26, 38-32-2 ATS): New York is poised to finish strong, as the Knicks went 12-6 in March to put themselves in position for a 50-win season, a division title and potentially the No. 2 seed in the playoffs. "We all knew it was going to be a tough month and we're playing like we're trying to get something accomplished," coach Mike Woodson told reporters. "And that's winning our division and trying to secure that second spot." That motivation has resulted in dominant play during the winning streak, as the Knicks have averaged 104 points over the past eight games while allowing 91.5 points per contest.

ABOUT THE HEAT (58-15, 39-34-0 ATS):
At times, Chris Bosh has been the forgotten man among Miami's "Big Three," but he made his presence known with a game-winning 3-pointer against the Spurs and the Heat's supporting cast showed Miami is not a pushover, even without James and Wade. "We are the defending champs no matter who we put out there," Bosh told reporters. "We are still the Miami Heat. We believe in ourselves. Each one of these guys is a professional." Miami does have some incentive to get its stars back in the lineup soon with the best record in the NBA still in play — though barely. The Heat are 3 1/2 games clear of San Antonio with nine to play.

TRENDS:

* Under is 11-3-1 in the last 15 meetings.
* Favorite is 7-3 ATS in the last 10 meetings.
* Knicks are 3-7 ATS in the last 10 meetings.
* Knicks are 1-4 ATS in the last five meetings in Miami.

BUZZER BEATERS:

1. Miami is trying to match a franchise record with its 18th consecutive home win. The Heat won 18 straight at home from Jan. 23-April 5, 2005.

2. New York star Carmelo Anthony has averaged 31 points in two games against the Heat this season. He sat out the Knicks' 112-92 win at Miami on Dec. 6.

3. James needs 18 points to reach 21,000 in his career. James has scored in double figures in 491 consecutive games, including all 213 he has played for the Heat.

Dallas Mavericks at Los Angeles Lakers (-3.5, 207)


The Dallas Mavericks are peaking at the right time, but they’re quickly running out of time to make the playoffs. The Mavericks begin a crucial four-game road trip Tuesday against the Los Angeles Lakers, who are a half-game behind eighth-place Utah in the Western Conference and stand 1 1/2 games ahead of Dallas. The hard-charging Mavericks have won 11 of their last 16 games to pull into contention for the final playoff spot.

The Lakers could be without point guard Steve Nash, who left Saturday’s 103-98 win over Sacramento after two minutes due to a strained hamstring. Nash didn’t practice Monday, and he’s listed as doubtful to face his former team. Los Angeles has won eight of the last nine meetings with Dallas, which has mounted an impressive surge after falling 10 games under .500 in mid-January.

TV: 10:30 p.m. ET, TNT, Time Warner Cable SportsNet (Los Angeles)

ABOUT THE MAVERICKS (36-37, 42-31-0 ATS): While veteran point guard Mike James has been a key part of the Mavericks’ resurgence, forward Dirk Nowitzki has carried the team in recent weeks. The 11-time All-Star is averaging 22 points and eight rebounds over his last 11 games, and he scored a season-high 35 points in a 100-98 win over Chicago on Saturday. Nowitzki, who has missed 29 games due to injuries, is coming off his best week of the season. “Honestly, it’s just me starting to feel better again,” Nowitzki told reporters.

ABOUT THE LAKERS (38-36, 30-43-1 ATS): Kobe Bryant is battling a bone spur in his left foot, but he had 14 assists and passed Wilt Chamberlain for fourth on the NBA’s all-time scoring list on Saturday. Bryant scored 38 points in a 103-99 win over the Mavericks on Feb. 24. Center Dwight Howard, averaging 19 points and 15.2 boards over his last five games, appears to be working better with Bryant in recent weeks. The Lakers are 11-6 when Howard takes 10 shots or more from both the floor and the free throw line.

TRENDS:

* Mavericks are 4-1 ATS in the last five meetings in Los Angeles.
* Over is 5-2 in the last seven meetings in Los Angeles.
* Underdog is 5-2 ATS in the last seven meetings.
* Road team is 18-7-1 ATS in the last 26 meetings.
* Mavericks are 1-5 ATS in the last six meetings.

BUZZER BEATERS:

1. The Lakers have won 41 of the last 47 matchups against the Mavericks in Los Angeles.

2. The Mavericks are 21-8 when holding their opponent to under 100 points.

3. Shaquille O’Neal's No. 34 jersey will be retired by the Lakers during a halftime ceremony.

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