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No Defense in Indiana; Jazz Glad To Be Home

   by Bryan Leonard - 03/17/2008

As we begin the home stretch of the NBA regular season, one key to look at is defense. Many teams that are out of it will play worse defense the rest of the way. Defense requires all-out energy for 48 minutes. Teams heading to the NBA draft lottery, or poorly coached ones, can begin to pack it in.

Notice that in Orlando’s 122 win over Indiana, the Magic shot 63%! That was the highest shooting percentage ever against a Pacers team. Not the kind of record a franchise wants to set. The previous franchise record for highest field goal percentage by an opponent was 60 percent, set by Dallas in January 1984 and Memphis in March 2002. "We competed our butts off in the second half," Pacers coach Jim O'Brien said. "We had two wide-open 3s to take the lead and they didn't fall for us, and Orlando's a good team. They were just able to close us out."

The Pacers should be motivated, as they are 16 games under .500, but trail New Jersey by three games for the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

One plus is that for the rest of the Pacers' season, only three of their 16 remaining opponents currently have a winning record. Still, Indiana is on a 4-11 SU, 5-10-1 ATS run. The Pacers play 4 games in 6 nights this week, playing at Chicago Saturday. The Pacers and Bulls are 2-0-1 over the total in meetings this season playing no defense.

This is a tough week for the miserable Miami Heat, playing three road games in six nights. It’s the start of a stretch where Miami plays 7 of the last 9 on the road. The Mavericks just blew past the Heat 98-73. Dallas also extended its win streak to five games overall, having posted margins of 20, 29, 25, 19 and 25 points! Miami has lost 35 of the past 38 games. The Heat's 73 points also were a season low. The Mavericks led by as many as 33 points in the third, marking the eighth game this season in which the Heat has trailed by at least 30 points.

It’s not often you find opportunities to go against the team with the best record in the NBA, but the Celtics are on a tough road trip this week. They head through the Texas Triangle for 3 games in 4 nights, playing at San Antonio, Houston and Dallas. The Mavericks game is on Thursday and 2 nights later the Green has to play at New Orleans. Dallas is 29-4 SU, 15-14 ATS at home, while New Orleans is 24-10 SU, 21-13 ATS at home.

A team that struggles on the road but plays great at home is Utah. The Jazz begin a 5-game home stand this week after a long road trip. The Jazz have played eight games in 14 days including five on the road, but they aren't going to let fatigue bother them. "It's exciting to be back home, playing in our arena," forward Carlos Boozer said. A schedule the Jazz hope they can use to their advantage as the season winds down and playoff spots become solidified. "It's a good opportunity to play at home," Boozer said. "We're looking forward to it and hopefully if we can win those games we can move up a bit." They are 28-3 SU, 21-10 ATS in the Salt Palace.

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