Dallas Mavericks at Oklahoma City Thunder (-11, 208)
The Oklahoma City Thunder have lost back-to-back games for the first time this season and seek to get back on the winning track when they host the struggling Dallas Mavericks on Thursday. The Thunder fell to the Miami Heat on Christmas Day and no longer have the NBA’s best record after the Los Angeles Clippers won later Tuesday night. Dallas has lost three straight and six of seven after a season-worst 129-91 loss to San Antonio on Sunday.
Star forward Dirk Nowitzki played for the first time this season in the loss to the Spurs. Nowitzki missed the first 27 games of the campaign after October knee surgery and scored eight points off the bench. Oklahoma City won 12 consecutive contests before the two straight defeats. “I’m proud of how they compete and they never let up,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. “Never. I’ve never been disappointed in this team with how they compete.” The Thunder have won 10 straight home games since losing to the Memphis Grizzlies on Nov. 14.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, TNT
ABOUT THE MAVERICKS (12-16, 13-15 ATS): Nowitzki played 20 minutes in his first game and the plan is to slowly increase his minutes. Dallas has adjusted to playing without him and Nowitzki is aware that an adjustment period is necessary. “It’s probably going to take me a week or two getting my legs and wind,” Nowitzki said. “And hopefully I can help a little more, but we need some work.” Guard O.J. Mayo is averaging a team-best 19.3 points but has slumped recently and also is dealing with the flu.
ABOUT THE THUNDER (21-6, 16-10-1 ATS): Forward Kevin Durant scored 33 points against Miami and Russell Westbrook tallied 21 to mark the 14th time the two standouts have scored 20 or more points in the same contest. Oklahoma City is 11-3 in those games. Reserve guard Kevin Martin returned from a one-game absence due to a quadriceps injury to score 15 points. He has a 17.9 career average in 18 games against Dallas. Durant is averaging 21.4 points in 17 regular-season contests against the Mavericks, well below his career mark of 26.4.
* Over is 4-1 in the last five meetings in Oklahoma City.
* Mavericks are 19-7-1 ATS in the last 27 meetings in Oklahoma City.
* Road team is 36-15-2 ATS in the last 53 meetings.
* Underdog is 20-5-1 ATS in the last 26 meetings.
1. Oklahoma City has won four of the last five regular-season meetings in addition to last season’s playoff sweep of the Mavericks.
2. Thunder F Serge Ibaka had just one blocked shot against Miami. Oklahoma City is 12-3 when he rejects three or more shots.
3. Mayo is just 9-of-33 from the field over the last three games while averaging only 8.3 points.
Boston Celtics at Los Angeles Clippers (-8.5, 190)
The Los Angeles Clippers attempt to extend their franchise-record winning streak to 15 games on Thursday when they host the Boston Celtics. Los Angeles surged a half-game ahead of the Oklahoma City Thunder for the league's best record with its 14th straight victory, a 112-100 home triumph over the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday. The Clippers have not lost since dropping a 105-98 decision to the New Orleans Hornets at home on Nov. 26.
Boston kicked off its four-game road trip Tuesday with a 93-76 win over the Brooklyn Nets. The victory halted the Celtics' five-game losing streak away from home. It also was the team's second in its last six contests overall. Boston concludes its trek with games at Golden State and Sacramento on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.
TV: 10:30 p.m. ET, TNT
ABOUT THE CELTICS (14-13, 10-15-2 ATS): Forward Paul Pierce is poised to move past Elgin Baylor for 24th place on the all-time scoring list. With 23,144 career points, Pierce needs just five to surpass Baylor and is 34 away from overtaking Adrian Dantley for 23rd place. Forward Kevin Garnett is expected to play in his 1,283rd career game Thursday, which would give him sole possession of 15th place on the all-time list. He currently is tied with Charles Oakley. Garnett also will climb within three games of Sam Perkins for 14th place.
ABOUT THE CLIPPERS (22-6, 18-10 ATS): Guard Jamal Crawford scored a team-high 22 points in Tuesday's victory. It marked the 12th time this season he has contributed 20 or more points off the bench. Forward Matt Barnes scored in double figures for the eighth straight game, pouring in 20 off the bench. Los Angeles is 16-0 when Barnes comes off the bench and reaches double digits. The Clippers scored a season-high 42 points in the second quarter against Denver. Their previous high for points in a quarter was 35.
* Under is 5-1 in the last six meetings in Los Angeles.
* Under is 9-3 in the last 12 meetings.
* Celtics are 1-6 ATS in the last seven meetings.
* Underdog is 7-0 ATS in the last seven meetings.
1. Boston has won three of the last four meetings between the teams.
2. Clippers G Chris Paul leads the league with 76 steals and an average of 2.7 per game.
3. Los Angeles has won 10 games during its streak by 12 points or more.