Preview: Bulls at Mavericks
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[February 28, 2014]
A pair of teams surging toward the
playoffs square off Friday when the Dallas Mavericks host the Chicago
Bulls. The Mavericks have been one of the hottest teams in the league of
late, winning 10 of their last 12 to move into sixth place in the
Western Conference. The Bulls, who are a season-best five games above
.500, have won seven of their last eight games and are 19-8 since the
start of 2014.
Dallas hopes its climb has just begun — the Mavericks, who are
19-9 at home, are just 3 1/2 games out of fourth place and
home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. "I think we
are coming along at the right time," Mavericks guard Monta Ellis
told reporters. "I think everybody is tuned in and accepting their
role of what they need to do to help us win. The biggest thing is
that everyone is playing together." The Bulls also have their eyes
on home-court advantage in the first round, as they sit fourth in
the East but are just a half-game behind third-place Toronto and 1
1/2 games ahead of fifth-place Washington.
TV: 8:30 p.m. ET, CSN Chicago, FSN Southwest (Dallas)
ABOUT THE BULLS (31-26): Chicago is the lowest-scoring team in the
league at 92.9 points per game but is also one of the NBA's best
defensive squads. The Bulls surprisingly have flourished since
shipping leading scorer Luol Deng to Cleveland, in large part
because Taj Gibson (13.2 points) has grown into a larger role,
scoring in double figures in 17 of his last 18 games. The Bulls have
started to put it together offensively of late, scoring 100 or more
points in five of the last 10 contest after hitting triple digits
only nine times in their first 47 games.
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ABOUT THE MAVERICKS (36-23): Dallas is a season-best 13 games above
.500 and has been as efficient as ever on offense lately, averaging
113.8 points during a four-game winning streak. Leading scorer Dirk
Nowitzki (21.6 points) is nursing a sore left shoulder that has
plagued him from time to time throughout his career, but he still
managed 18 points in Wednesday's 108-89 win over New Orleans and is
not expected to miss any time. Nowitzki and Ellis (19 points) lead a
dynamic offensive team that fared well in the first meeting with the
Bulls this season, shooting 52.6 percent in a 105-83 win in Chicago.
1. The Mavericks have won 13 of the past 15 meetings with the Bulls
2. The Bulls are 22-6 when holding opponents under 90 points,
including a 13-1 mark since the start of the new year.
3. Ellis' next steal will be the 1,000th of his career and his next
3-pointer will be his 500th.
PREDICTION: Mavericks 98, Bulls 97
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