The Miami Heat host the Dallas Mavericks on Thursday, March 29th in a game that will be nationally televised on TNT at 8:00 EST. This is a rematch from last year’s NBA Finals in which the Mavericks won in six games. It will actually be the second meeting between these teams this season as they also played on Christmas Day. Miami won that one in Dallas by a final of 105-94 to get a little bit of payback.

Take a look at the odds and you will find a line of Miami -8 over Dallas and a total set of 189 points.

Miami

The Heat sit atop the Southwest Division with a 35-13 record. They are 4.5 games ahead of the Orlando Magic within the division, and they’re four games back of Chicago for the top seed in the East. This is a team that was expected to win a title this season, but they have looked far from the best team in the league of late. Through March 1st, Miami was the highest-scoring team in the NBA at 103.8 points per game. Since then, the Heat are just 25th in the league at 93.1 points per game. Every team behind them is out of the playoff picture.

Miami is coming off back-to-back losses to Oklahoma City and Indiana by a combined 31 points. It’s the first time since Lebron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh became teammates that the Heat have suffered back-to-back losses by double-digits. To make matters worse, James suffered a dislocated finger on his non-shooting hand. The only cure for it is rest, but James isn’t about to take time off at this point of the season. He was seen catching most passes with his right hand against the Pacers after suffering the injury.

Dallas

The Mavericks enter with a 29-22 record, sitting seven games behind San Antonio in the Southwest Division. The defending champs currently sit in 5th place in the Western Conference, though they are far from a shoe-in to make the playoffs at this point. Dallas is a mere two games ahead of ninth-place Denver heading into this showdown with the Heat. They certainly have to start playing better if they even want a chance at defending their title.

Dallas has done just that of late, winning two straight following a stretch where they had lost 11 of 18. Owner Mark Cuban is taking his team’s poor play so seriously that he’s not even taking his championship ring with him to Miami. Their playoff push has to start now considering the Mavericks only have six home games left the rest of the season. With consecutive wins over Houston coming in, this team could be rounding into form.

Head-to-Head

Miami had lost 14 straight regular season games to Dallas before their 105-94 win on Christmas Day. It was their first victory over the Mavericks in the regular season since 2004. The Mavericks have won 17 of the last 19 regular season meetings between these teams, including the last seven in Miami.

The Heat led by as many as 35 points in their opener against the Mavericks. They did settle for an 11-point victory, but this one was in the bag early. James (37) and Wade (26) combined for 63 of the team’s 105 points in the win. Jason Terry scored 23 points while Dirk Nowitzki chipped in 21 for Dallas.

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