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The greatest fear GM Danny Ainge had to have after acquiring Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen was the fear one or both could get injured.


The greatest fear GM Danny Ainge had to have after acquiring Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen was the fear one or both could get injured. Well, his fears have been realized, as the Celtics will face the Mavericks tonight with both on the bench.

Those betting NBA basketball have to share the same fears. Those betting at have nothing to fear when taking advantage of the 50-point Man on Fire or Overtime Blues promotions.

Ray Allen is the lesser of the two problems, as he has the flu and no doubt will get better each day. Garnett has a strained abdominal muscle and has missed the last two games. The Celtics won't take any short-term solution for a long term health benefit. If he can play Thursday, we'll play him," coach Doc Rivers said. "But again, it's got to be almost 100 percent. That's the way I look at those types of injuries." Because of uncertainty no official line has been released at; suffice to say Boston favored by 2-5 points is a reasonable number to start with. Boston has not been as potent as they were early in the season with 4-9-1 ATS record against teams with winning record in last 14 outings.

Dallas has been hotter than the HBO show "The Wire", being winners of 12 of last 14 games, with 8-5-1 against the spread record. This has propelled the Mavericks into second place in the Southwest Division and trail the equally sizzling New Orleans Hornets by just one game.

Dallas will also have a thinner roster, with starting point guard Devin Harris expected to miss at least 2-3 weeks with a bone bruise on his left ankle. Jerry Stackhouse, one of the team's top reserves, also was sidelined Monday with a strained right hamstring and is considered like most of us, day-to-day. From a competition standpoint, this is a rugged four game swing for Boston. After shooting over 53 percent and whipping Memphis by 19 points on the road, starting tonight, they have to play all three Eastern Conference division leaders- Boston, Detroit and Orlando.

"It's going to be a tough trip," said forward Dirk Nowitzki. "Boston is the best team right now in the league. Best record. We all know what Detroit is like at home. They're tough to beat. It's going to be a fun trip. Very tough." Nowitzki's comments are well founded, as the Mavericks have failed to cover 11 of last 14 road games against teams with winning home records.

Dallas will have the benefit of playing with two days off and is 25-11 ATS in the process. The Mavs are 9-12 ATS on the road and will take on the NBA's best defensive team in Boston, who allows 88.2 PPG. Amazingly, this could work to there benefit as Dallas is 27-10 ATS versus good defensive teams surrendering 91or fewer points a game.

Fully manned or not, Boston is 36-15 ATS after breaking the century mark in scoring. The Celtics also have a little extra against opponents who have scored 100 or more points in last game, covering almost 75 percent of the time at 23-8 ATS.

TNT will use this intriguing encounter for its usual Thursday night action, starting at 8 Eastern. Boston is 5-2 ATS playing the night before the weekend starts, with Dallas desultory 1-6 ATS the same evening.

StatFox Power Line indicates Boston -6. However, with the injuries affecting the contest, be sure to follow the Live Odds and Betting Trends pages to keep up with the latest info.

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