New York Knicks at Boston Celtics (+1.5, 188)
The Boston Celtics need some sort of spark to put an end to their four-game losing streak and a visit from a bitter rival could provide that. Boston has not won since a contentious victory over the New York Knicks on Jan. 7 extended its winning streak to six games. Now the Celtics will look to put a halt to the skid when they host the Atlantic Division-leading Knicks on Thursday night. The previous meeting featured an altercation between Boston's Kevin Garnett and New York's Carmelo Anthony that led to a one-game suspension for the Knicks' superstar.
New York is in a funk of its own, having dropped four of six following Monday's 88-85 home loss to the Brooklyn Nets. An obvious concern for the Knicks is that all four losses have come against Eastern Conference contenders and two of them were at Madison Square Garden. New York is seeking to end a drought of six-plus years in Boston, having lost the last 11 matchups dating to Nov. 24, 2006.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, TNT
LINE: Boston opened as a 1-point home favorite but action on New York flipped the line to +1.5.
ABOUT THE KNICKS (25-14, 20-18-1 ATS): With Raymond Felton still sidelined with a broken finger, Anthony is the one constant offensively in New York's starting unit. In the four games since the loss to Boston, Anthony has averaged 30.3 points and outscored his fellow starters by a total of six points combined. Sixth man J.R. Smith is putting up an average of 13.3 points in his last four games following a sensational 10-game stretch in which he had eight 20-point games and averaged 23 points.
ABOUT THE CELTICS (20-21, 14-24-3 ATS): Boston continued its trend of playing up or down to the competition in Tuesday's 95-90 loss at Cleveland. Three of the team's past four defeats came against teams that are a combined 45 games under .500. Point guard Rajon Rondo, who missed the last meeting with the Knicks while serving a one-game suspension, had 17 points and 13 rebounds - both team highs - in Tuesday's loss. He had a triple-double in New York's last visit to Boston in March 2012.
* Over is 4-1 in the last five meetings.
* Knicks are 2-5 ATS in the last seven meetings.
* Road team is 7-2 ATS in the last nine meetings.
1. Anthony has averaged 25.2 points in 19 career games against the Celtics.
2. Rondo has set career highs against the Knicks in rebounding (27, March 2012) and assists (24, October 2010).
3. Five of Boston's past six home games with New York (playoffs included) have been decided by four points or fewer.
Los Angeles Clippers at Phoenix Suns (+6.5, 193)
The Los Angeles Clippers are about to embark on their most rugged stretch of the season and it appears they'll start it off without All-Star point guard Chris Paul. The Clippers will attempt to avoid a third straight defeat when they visit the Phoenix Suns on Thursday night. It begins a grueling portion of the schedule that will see Los Angeles play 10 of its next 11 games away from home. Paul has missed four of the last six games with a bruised right kneecap, including Tuesday's showdown against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said after the Thunder loss that Paul was "day-to-day" but he emphasized the team will use caution so his star guard does not aggravate the injury again. Phoenix, which is tied with New Orleans for the worst record in the Western Conference, is undergoing a major reshuffling. The team fired coach Alvin Gentry and replaced him with player development director Lindsey Hunter, who won his debut against Sacramento on Wednesday night. Hunter's hiring led to one assistant coach leaving and another could be following suit.
TV: 10:30 p.m. ET, TNT
LINE: Los Angeles opened as a 7-point road favorite but has been bet down to -6.5. The total has moved from 193 to 192.5.
ABOUT THE CLIPPERS (32-11, 25-18-0 ATS): Los Angeles had a brutal back-to-back, losing at Golden State on Monday before falling at home to the Thunder. Blake Griffin was outstanding in the two defeats, scoring a season-high 31 points against Oklahoma City after putting up 26 vs. the Warriors. It was the highest two-game total of the season for Griffin, who also tied a season high with eight assists against Golden State. Griffin is riding a string of three consecutive double-doubles during which he is averaging 24.7 points and 11.7 rebounds.
ABOUT THE SUNS (14-28, 17-23-2 ATS): Forward Michael Beasley appears intent on resurrecting his career. The enigmatic Beasley, the No. 2 overall pick in 2008, was signed to a three-year, $18 million contract in the offseason but had fallen off the map until a 20-point performance against Chicago on Jan. 12. That was followed by only his second double-double of the season and led up to Wednesday's performance vs. the Kings, when Beasley scored 13 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter. "All the things he's capable of we saw it tonight," Hunter said.
* Under is 4-0 in the last four meetings in Phoenix.
* Favorite is 4-0 ATS in the last four meetings.
* Under is 7-1 in the last eight meetings.
* Home team is 5-2 ATS in the last seven meetings.
* Clippers are 2-6 ATS in the last eight meetings in Phoenix.
1. The Clippers snapped a 10-game losing streak in Phoenix with a 103-77 rout of the Suns on Dec. 23.
2. Beasley has averaged 20.2 points in 11 career games against Los Angeles.
3. Phoenix is attempting to avoid its first five-game home losing streak since March 2004.