The defending champion Dallas Mavericks (3-4) will be looking to expand on their newly found momentum after an awful start to the season against the San Antonio Spurs (4-2). Tip-off is scheduled for 8:30 pm ET at the AT&T Center.

Sportsbooks had opened with the Spurs listed at -3, but early NBA betting action has shortened the line to now favor the Spurs by just 1.5 points. The game's total has also been bet down from 192.5 to 189.5. With this much line movement, keep your eyes on the NBA odds boards, as these numbers could fall even more.

The Spurs have consistently been a top notch team every season, but they'll be playing without superstar Manu Ginobli due to a broken left hand. Can the Mavericks continue the momentum in the Battle of Texas after a poor start or will the Spurs prevail at home in front of a supportive crowd with the loss of Ginobli? 

Back on track 

Prospects look promising as the Dallas Mavericks began the NBA’s shortened season but as Lebron James and Dwayne Wade took the court in Dallas, things quickly looked south. I won't even mention the final score, simply because it wasn't indicative of the play on the court. 

The Heat blasted the Mavericks out of the building, even leading by 35 points at one point! Owner Mark Cuban was obviously upset, and Dirk Nowitzki looked rusty as he took an early seat on the bench. 

Newly acquired Lamar Odom was ejected from the game after confronting the referee about a call. This clearly wasn't the way that the Mavs wanted to start off the season, as they saw the Miami Heat as their measuring stick for success

Part 2 

Dirk NowitzkiYet again, the Mavericks took another beating in their 2nd game of the season, this time at the hands of the Denver Nuggets, 115-93. Denver went into the 4th quarter with a 29 point lead!  Lamar Odom managed to stay in the game but shot just 1 of 10 from the field.

Looking Forward 

After a shocking 99-82 loss on New Year's Day at the hands of the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Mavericks have managed to win 2 consecutive games against a tough Oklahoma City team and a formidable Phoenix Suns squad. Even though the Mavericks have started to turn things around, one can't assume that this is the team of last year that had chemistry with center Tyson Chandler. 

A better fit?

Thus far, it seems that Tyson Chandler was the better fit for the Mavericks. Odom had no choice but to want out of LA as the Lakers attempted to trade him after the best season of his career. Marc Cuban and Dallas thought that they were picking up a gem in Odom, with head coach Rick Carlisle even made jokes about being on Lamar's reality television show. 

We're only 7 games into the season, and things haven't turned out the way each party had planned. Odom has underperformed and hasn't gotten the playing time he had hoped for. He's down to 18.9 minutes per game while averaging 6.7 points, 4 rebounds, and 4.7 assists per game. Is this just another Jason Kidd that's come to Dallas and lost his offensive game? 

In his last game, Lamar did get more playing time and produced in a victory over Phoenix. Odom played for nearly 23 minutes, scoring 15 points, 5 rebounds, and 2 steals. Look for Lamar Odom's numbers steadily increase as the season goes on, and he should play a pivotal role in tonight’s game against Tim Duncan and the Spurs. 

Is Tyson Chandler a better fit for the Mavs? From watching the 1st seven games you would have to say yes but Odom has had the better career and can play more roles on this team, which is rare for a 6’0’’ forward. 

Dallas's defense will need to step it up against the Spurs, as they ranked below average in most defensive categories. Dirk Nowitzki has been slightly sluggish at the start of the season and he'll need some support. 

R.J. to the rescue 

Richard JeffersonDue to the injury to Manu Ginobli, forward Richard Jefferson will have to play a larger role on this team. RJ has the capabilities of being a big time producer, as he has averaged more than 20 points in a season before and he's definitely going to get the playing time. 

In Jefferson's last game, he played 38 minutes, adding17 points and 5 rebound. On top of that, RJ was 5 for 5 from 3 point range! Look for a big game from Richard Jefferson tonight against the defending champions. 

Upfront production 

Forward/Center DeJuan Blair look's to provide matchup problems for the Mavericks. There is no Tyson Chandler to get in Blair's face and provide trouble for Blair on the offensive end. What Duncan brings in length, Blair brings in power and youth. This season Blair has taken a huge leap forward from 8.3 points to 13.8 points per game. I see this as a tough matchup for Dallas.

Tim Duncan has had his minutes reduced, but has still managed to be a productive player and team leader. Duncan is coming off of a 15 point, 11 rebound performance against Golden State. We all know that "The Big Fundamental" can still put up 25 points and 15 rebounds against any team in this league, regardless of his age .

Outcome of the game 

Dallas has finally started to get their confidence back and is starting to gel. Look for them to defeat the Ginobli-less Spurs in San Antonio. 

My betting pick of the clash of the titans is Dallas +1.5