Backup guard George Hill missed Wednesday's game after suffering an ankle injury against the Nets a day earlier. Hill, the team's highest-scoring bench player, is currently listed as out indefinitely.
Jason Terry netted 25 points to lead the shorthanded Mavs, who got 12 points apiece from Shawn Marion and Brandan Wright. Dirk Nowitzki, however, shot just 2-for-15 from the field and posted eight points and eight rebounds in the loss, Dallas' second over the last eight games
"They're playing the best right now," Terry said of the Thunder. "For the time being they are the team to beat."
Meanwhile, veteran point guard Jason Kidd (strained right calf), starting center Brendan Haywood (lower back tightness) and the versatile Lamar Odom (stomach virus) all missed the game against the Thunder. Haywood and Odom practice Thursday and should be back tonight but Kidd is expected to remain sidelined.
Carlisle, who has already apologized to his fans and Cuban for his actions, once won 61 games with the Pacers and the franchise hasn't had a winning record since Carlisle went 44-38 with the 2004-05 team, something that looks like it will change this season.
Dallas has won six of its last seven meetings with Indy. The Pacers have lost seven in a row and 11 of 12 trips to Dallas.
The 109 points were a good sign for a Magic club that had averaged a mere 76.0 points during the slide, while shooting just 39.4 percent. The offense has been hurt by the absence of point guard Jameer Nelson, who hasn't played since Jan. 27 because of a concussion.
"I think we need to look to the next game and bring the same effort and energy," said Anderson, who buried six three-pointers in Wednesday's win. "We didn't want to focus too much on that streak because that's a week we'd all like to forget. Those games we'd all like to forget about and we can move forward and get a win next game and just start a little run.
Cleveland, meanwhile, comes into tonight's contest on the heels of a narrow 93-90 loss to the Boston Celtics on Tuesday. The Cavs had beaten the Celtics on Sunday, but couldn't overcome a 22-point deficit that they cut to two with a minute remaining.
Anderson Varejao had 20 points and 20 rebounds -- 10 offensive -- but missed a pair of shots in the final minute. Irving had 13 of his 21 points in the final stanza, including an inconsequential three-pointer as time expired.
Orlando has won six straight overall over the Cavs and eight of its last 10 in its building against them.
Super Bowl 2009 Betting propositions
Underdog bettors love the Super Bowl and, history suggests, the underdogs love them back. And the big dogs bite harder.
Even so, there is a warning in store for Super Bowl gamblers who must love dogs: The Arizona Cardinals Super Bowl betting lines might not be enough of a Cinderella to make it worth your while.
Although the Cardinals were widely panned as one of the worst division winners and least playoff-worthy teams in recent memory, their trip to Super Bowl XLIII Jan. 31 in Tampa against the Pittsburgh Steelers Super Bowl betting lines comes with a little more respect from the oddsmakers than you might imagine. They are a 7-point underdog at most sports books.
If you count yourself among those who covet the big dog in the big game, this isn’t exactly great news. You should have been hoping for more points. This is because the facts show that the bigger the dog, the better the bet in the Super Bowl.
Case in point: Over the past 13 seasons, double-figure underdogs in the Super Bowl are 4-0-1 ATS and have won the past three outright. In fact, the last double-digit chalk to do the deed for bettors was the 1995 San Francisco 49ers, who managed to beat the astounding 19-point spot afforded backers of the San Diego Chargers in the 49-26 romp in Super Bowl XXIX.
By contrast, 7-point favorites are 2-1-1 ATS in the same span, the last such contest resulting a cover grinded out by the Colts in their 29-17 win over the Bears two seasons ago in Super Bowl XLI.
In 2004, the Patriots failed to cover the number in their 32-29 triumph over the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl props while the Rams and Titans gave everyone a refund in 2000 after the Rams posted a 23-16 win as a seven-point favorite.
So while Arizona’s run has included impressive upsets as a 10-point road underdog to the Carolina Panthers and Sunday’s 32-25 win in the NFC championship game to the 4-point favored Philadelphia Eagles, their long-shot story lacks a bit of the David vs. Goliath storyline of past Super Bowl underdogs.
While the seven-point spread represents a significant gap in the perception of strength between the two teams, it is far from monumental. For example, last season the Giants were the wild-card afterthought turned road-warrior buzzsaw, with stunning wins over the Buccaneers, Cowboys and Packers to earn their place in the Super Bowl.
There, they played spoiler to New England’s bid to become the first 19-0 team in NFL history and cemented their place in sports betting lore with a 17-14 win as a 12.5-point underdog.
In other words, the Cardinals appear to have their work cut out for them as a mid-range underdog. But in homage to the spread beaters who have come before them, here is a brief look back at recent colossal upsets in the Super Bowl:
SB XLII -- 2008 -- New York Giants 17, New England Patriots 14 (Giants +12.5) – Eli Manning’s 13-yard touchdown pass to Plaxico Burress in the final minute clinched the historic upset for the Giants, who used a masterful defensive plan to slow down Tom Brady and the previously undefeated New England Patriots.
XXXVI -- 2002 -- Patriots 20, Rams 17 (Patriots +14) – This was the coming out party for the aforementioned Brady, who went from obscure sixth-round draft pick to Super Bowl hero in one fell swoop. He led the game-winning drive in the final minute – eschewing analyst John Madden’s advice to take a knee and play for overtime – leading to Adam Vinatieri’s memorable 48-yard field goal that split the uprights as time expired.
XXXII 1998 Broncos 31, Packers 24 (Denver +12) – The first of John Elway’s two consecutive Super Bowl titles to put an end to his Hall of Fame career was an upset for the ages. The Broncos used the determination of Elway and a 157-yard, three-touchdown performance from Terrell Davis to turn back Brett Favre and the heavily favored Packers.
Numerous College Basketball teams take final big step to March Madness betting
So, what turned on the lock spigot? Well, after what felt like weeks of teams treading water and slipping back into the bubble muck, a bunch of them finally decided to say "to heck with parity" and won games that should put them into the Big Dance.
Disagree with some of these? Then here's the challenge. Take all of the "should be ins" and make a legit case that each should be ahead of the team that's a lock. Then find 10 more teams that also should be placed in the bracket ahead of that lock team. Not so easy, is it?
If you want more evidence that these locks should be good to go, check out what our research department dug up. Since the NCAA Tournament went to 64 teams in 1985, only six teams from a "big six" conference have had a record of 10-6 or better in conference play and not been selected: Colorado (2004) and Nebraska (1999) from the Big 12, Boston College and Seton Hall (both 2003) from the Big East, Indiana (2005) from the Big Ten and UCLA, which somehow went 12-6 in the Pac-10 in 1988 and still missed out. (Note: Five teams went 11-7 and didn't get in, the latest being last season's Stanford team, which had a brutal nonconference run.)
Yes, 10 conference wins doesn't always mean what it used to because of unbalanced schedules, but this season, it should be plenty good in all but the extreme cases (see: Iowa).
In a way, this is a welcome development, because this is a bubble watch, not a lock watch. We can finally be done with teams like Maryland and Virginia Tech and start really bearing down on at-large battles such as Syracuse-West Virginia and Appalachian State-Georgia Tech.
Interestingly, all the shifting of teams into lock status appears to be more administrative than impactful. The number of remaining available at-larges didn't change one iota. The only difference is that teams on the bubble now have a clearer idea of which team(s) they are competing with for those precious bids.
|The Bubble Breakdown|
|CONFERENCE||LOCKS||SHOULD BE INS||AT-LARGES TAKEN
(assuming no auto bid outlier)
|ACC Betting Odds||6||0||5|
|Big East Betting Odds||5||0||4|
|Big Ten Betting Odds||2||2||3|
|Big 12 Betting Odds||3||0||2|
|Pac-10 Betting Odds||5||1||5|
|SEC Betting Odds||4||0||3|
|MVC Betting Odds||1||1||1|
|MWC Betting Odds||2||1||2|
As always, I've tried to be as inclusive as possible while only including teams that would have a reasonable chance of at least being discussed if this were Selection Sunday. If your team's not on here, there's probably a good reason (or three) -- start with the RPI and SOS numbers and work your way down.
(Please remember, per selection committee criteria, that records displayed are Division I only. Next update: Feb. 28)
If you have a legitimate grievance, or just like talking bubble, send an e-mail. Polite ones with fact-based arguments have a much better chance of receiving a response. I apologize in advance if I can't get back to all of you.
Atlantic Coast Conference
Work left to do: Clemson, Florida State, Georgia Tech
The ACC moves to six locks as BC, Va Tech and Virginia all got their 10th ACC wins, which should be more than enough this season, and Maryland rallied past North Carolina to get the final piece the Terps needed. After that? It could end there unless FSU, Ga Tech or Clemson picks things up in a hurry.
Work left to do:
Clemson [19-9 (5-9), RPI: 41, SOS: 42] The Tigers are closer to locking up the collapse of the year award (in a good battle with OK State) than they are to grabbing an at-large. Clemson's been very competitive, but there's no really positive way you can spin nine losses in 11 games. They now cannot get to .500 in ACC play and still must head to Virginia Tech in the season finale (after hosting Miami). Unless the Tigers win both and/or do some serious work in the ACC tourney, they very well could be left out. There are no great nonconference wins, but ODU, App State, Miss. State, South Carolina and Georgia are all respectable W's.
Florida State [18-11 (6-9), RPI: 48, SOS: 14] The Noles got thrashed at Maryland to run their losing streak to five, but then pounded NC State at home to set the table for what likely is an elimination game at Miami. You can at least make a case for the Seminoles at 7-9 in ACC play (and some work in the ACC tourney), but 6-10 is not going to cut it. Wins at Duke and over Florida will resonate, but the computer numbers remain questionable. Beyond Florida, FSU thrashed bubble buddy Providence, but there's not a ton beyond those two games that will help. They didn't show well in big-time opportunities against Pitt and Wisconsin (before the Florida win).
Georgia Tech [18-10 (6-8), RPI: 51, SOS: 46] The Jackets beat Wake on Wednesday but couldn't get it done at UVa on Saturday, which could be a crucial loss with UNC and BC (both at home) remaining and 8-8 almost a certain need for at-large consideration. A nonconference win over Memphis helps, but the RPI and SOS are not at-large quality right now; if you combine those with a sub-.500 ACC mark, that could spell NIT for GT.
For more College Basketball betting lines go to MySportsbook.com
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