Dallas Mavericks at Miami Heat (-8.5, 207.5)
Reigning MVP LeBron James called his inconsistent team “unmotivated” early in the week, but it won’t be hard for the Miami Heat to get up for the visiting Dallas Mavericks on Friday. The Heat responded with a 118-95 victory over Milwaukee on Tuesday and it will get much more difficult against the Mavericks, who join Miami among the top five offensive teams in the league. Monta Ellis and Dirk Nowitzki lead a Dallas squad that looks to extend its win streak to three.
The Mavericks, who beat the Heat in the 2011 finals, have won all four contests at home while losing three of four on the road. Miami averages 106.8 points to match Dallas, but James said the Heat are struggling on the defensive end. “We know when we’re on the top of our game defensively we’re one of the best defensive teams in the league, but you’ve got to do it,” James told the Miami Herald. “You can’t talk about it.”
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, FSN Southwest (Dallas), SunSports (Miami)
ABOUT THE MAVERICKS (5-3): Ellis, in his first season with Dallas, has not scored below 18 points in the first eight games and reached the 30s twice while averaging a team-high 22.5. Nowitzki passed Jerry West for 16th on the NBA’s all-time scoring list in the 105-95 victory over Washington on Tuesday and is scoring 18.3 per contest. Rookie guard Shane Larkin is close to a return from a broken right ankle, but won’t be able to make his debut in Miami where he led the Hurricanes to the ACC championship last season.
ABOUT THE HEAT (5-3): With all the struggles in the early season, Miami would have a five-game winning streak if not for Jeff Green’s long buzzer-beating 3-pointer that gave Boston a win last Saturday. James averages 25.5 points, Dwyane Wade 18.4 and Chris Bosh 17.3 while the Heat has allowed 100.1 per contest to stand in the middle of the pack after finishing fifth (95) last season. Michael Beasley played back-to-back games for the first time, contributing a season-high 19 points in 20 minutes against Milwaukee on Tuesday.
* Over is 6-0 in the last six meetings.
* Mavericks are 4-0 ATS in their last four vs. NBA Southeast.
* Heat are 0-8 ATS in their last eight games following a ATS win.
* Over is 4-0 in Heat last four Friday games.
1. Miami F Udonis Haslem missed the last two games with back spasms and G Ray Allen sat out the Milwaukee contest with an illness.
2. Dallas G Jose Calderon needs one assist to become the 99th player in NBA history to reach 4,000 in his career.
3. The Heat have scored 100 points or more in the first eight games, a franchise record to start a season.