The Miami Heat host the Dallas Mavericks tonight in a rematch from last year's NBA finals. While this isn't the same Dallas team that took the crown last season, will they be able to handle the Heat this go round?

There are two simply splendid NBA matchups tonight and both will be televised on TNT. Followed by Miami/Dallas, we'll see Kobe Bryant face off against Kevin Durant as the Lakers battle the Thunder.

The Mavs and Heat met up on opening day, which ended up being on Christmas Day this season.

LeBron JamesMiami dominated Dallas, getting out to a 32-point lead after three quarters and then holding on for the 105-94 victory. LeBron James had 37 points, 10 rebounds, six assists, two steals and two blocks and Dwayne Wade finished with 26 points, eight boards and six dimes.

The Mavericks got 23 points from Jason Terry and 21 from Dirk Nowtizki, but overall it was a miserable opener. They were outscored 31-10 in fast break points and 44-28 in the paint.

Heat looking for season sweep

Fast forward to today and the Heat now get a crack at home court advantage. They're favored by eight points in the NBA odds, while the total is at 189.

LeBron and company have been struggling a little bit here lately, losing their last two by double digits. Their latest loss was a 105-90 defeat to the Pacers in Indiana where the NBA lines had them favored by 3.5 points.

However, that game was on Monday, meaning the Heat have had plenty of time to rest up, as well as to think about what they've been doing wrong heading into tonight's matchup.

The Mavericks have won two straight and six of their last eight. Two days ago they beat Houston 90-81 at home, with the team's bench (49 points) coming up big.

For me, given all the circumstances and how much Dallas has struggled on the road (10-14 SU, 12-12 ATS) this season, I think Miami is the right side. Regardless, I'm rolling with the UNDER tonight as I expect defense to prevail over all.

The Heat's defense continues to be rock-solid (91.4 PPG allowed over last five), but they've really struggled offensively lately, putting up 91.0 PPG per contest during that same span. They're shooting 45.2 percent overall and a miserable 26.7 percent from three.

Defensive battle on the cards?

Dallas Mavericks vs. Miami Heat

Meanwhile, Dallas has hit the century mark just once in their previous four games, and that one only occurred because they went into overtime in a 101-99 victory in Houston.

Both teams are well-rested and should therefore be showing quite a bit of defensive intensity and tenacity. Despite taking a step back over the last couple weeks, the Mavs are giving up 93.1 PPG on the season, good for sixth in the NBA.

To date both squads rank in the top six in defensive efficiency, which measures the number of points a team allows per 100 possessions. The Heat are fourth and the Mavs are sixth.

The UNDER has cashed in five of Miami's last six games and is a trend that's gone 15-7 on the Heat's home floor this season. I will therefore be recommending a play on the UNDER as part of my NBA picks for the day.

FREE Pick: UNDER 189

TREND BREAKDOWN

Mavericks are 3-7 ATS in their last 10 road games

Heat are 3-7 ATS in their last 10 games overall

OVER is 8-2 in Dallas' last 10 games overall

UNDER is 5-1 in Miami's last 6 games overall

OVER is 7-3-1 in the last 11 head-to-head meetings

 

Be sure to check out our Thursday night NBA betting parlay.