Can Bulls keep their hot stretch going?

Can Bulls keep their hot stretch going?
March 30, 2013, 10:30 am
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Mark Strotman

Coming off their biggest win of the year, the Bulls look to avoid a letdown this afternoon when they travel to Dallas to take on the Mavericks on Comcast SportsNet.

Few gave the Bulls a chance to beat the defending-champion Miami Heat on Wednesday, and those numbers decreased when starters Marco Belinelli and Joakim Noah were ruled out. But in classic Tom Thibodeau fashion, the head coach deployed a physical style of play, and bullied LeBron James and company in a 101-97 win.

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It broke Miami's 27-game win streak, and now the Bulls will look to carry that momentum on the road when they take on Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks.

Miami was playing for something -- its 27-game win streak -- and so is Dallas, which sits 1.5 games behind Utah and the Los Angeles Lakers for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Rick Carlisle's group has played well of late, winning nine of 13 to get back into the playoff race. Today marks their final contest of a six-game home stand.

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Yesterday, Carlisle said he will rely on Nowitzki down the stretch, telling the Fort Worth Star-Telegram "superstars have more of that burden on their shoulders than the other guys just because of who they are, what they can do and what they have done."

Nowitzki missed the first two months of the season with a knee injury, but has responded by averaging 17.0 points and 6.9 rebounds in this his 15th season in the pros. But in their recent stretch of solid play, his numbers are up to 19.8 points on 53 percent shooting (42.1 percent from beyond the arc) and 7.8 rebounds. With O.J. Mayo nursing a shoulder injury and Shawn Marion just two games removed from a calf injury, expect to see a heavy dose of Nowitzki.

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Dallas has been hot at home lately, earning wins over Boston and the Clippers before falling Thursday to Indiana, 103-78. The Bulls are just 11-18 against Western Conference opponents, the worst mark of current Eastern playoff teams, including losses in four of their last five. They have, however, won two straight away from the United Center and that, combined with the Miami win, should make for an interesting affair this afternoon.

Catch all the action this afternoon on Comcast SportsNet, and stay up-to-date on social media by checking out Bulls Pulse.