Oklahoma City Thunder at Orlando Magic (+1.5, 192)
THE STORY: The Oklahoma City Thunder opened their abbreviated 2011-12 season with a hard-fought victory over the Orlando Magic on Christmas Day. They'll look for a season sweep of the Magic on Thursday as they pay a visit to Orlando. The Thunder have won six consecutive games, including a 92-88 come-from-behind win over the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday to open the second half of their season. The Magic have also been strong of late, beating Washington 102-95 Wednesday for their third win in four games.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, TNT
ABOUT THE THUNDER (28-7, 20-15 ATS): Orlando fans are quite familiar with the Thunder's two superstars, point guard Russell Westbrook and small forward Kevin Durant. The two electrified Sunday's All-Star Game at the Amway Center; Durant took home MVP honors with a 36-point performance in the 151-149 Western Conference victory, while Westbrook added 21 points on an array of dazzling shots and thunderous dunks. Westbrook was sensational against the Sixers on Wednesday, scoring 22 points and adding 13 rebounds. Durant scored 23 points in the win.
ABOUT THE MAGIC (23-13, 20-16 ATS): With the buzz of the midseason showcase now in the rearview mirror, Magic supporters can get back to the business of cheering their team to a spot in the playoffs. Which spot Orlando will secure is still very much in doubt. The Magic enter Thursday's action sitting fifth in the East, meaning they would have to do without homecourt advantage in the opening round of the postseason. The upcoming schedule doesn't offer many easy matchups, with the Magic facing Miami and Chicago twice each over their next 11 contests.
* Home team is 5-0 ATS in the last five meetings.
* Under is 6-1 in the last seven meetings in Orlando.
* Under is 12-4 in the last 16 meetings.
* Thunder are 2-5 ATS in the last seven meetings in Orlando.
1. The teams have split their last six encounters, with the home team winning each time.
2. Magic superstar Dwight Howard averages 20.9 points, 13.9 rebounds and 2.8 blocks in 15 career games against the Thunder.
3. Orlando F Ryan Anderson has knocked down at least two 3-pointers in each of his last eight games. He leads the NBA with 103 made 3s.
PREDICTION: Thunder 105, Magic 95
Miami Heat at Portland Trail Blazers (+5, 196.5)
THE STORY: The Miami Heat were the hottest team in the NBA heading into the All-Star break. With the Big Three healthy and dangerous as ever, the Heat will try to extend their winning streak to nine games as they kick off a West Coast trek Thursday night against the Portland Trail Blazers. LeBron James and Dwyane Wade nearly led the East to a come-from-behind win over their West counterparts in Sunday's midseason showcase; now, they'll refocus on their goal of finishing atop the conference standings. Portland is hovering around the .500 mark following a 104-95 loss to the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday night.
TV: 10:30 p.m. ET, TNT
ABOUT THE HEAT (27-7, 18-16 ATS): Miami isn't simply stringing together victories; it's rolling over every team in its path. Each of the Heat's eight consecutive wins have been by 12 points or more, a run of dominance that has the club ahead of Chicago by the narrowest of margins in the race for Eastern Conference supremacy. March should present a reasonable challenge for the Heat, who will play 10 of their 16 games this month away from Miami. That begins with Thursday's game against the Trail Blazers, the opener of a three-game road swing.
ABOUT THE TRAIL BLAZERS (18-17, 18-16-1 ATS): Portland came out flat in their first game of the second half, falling behind by 17 points at halftime against the Nuggets and never getting back into the game. The Blazers find themselves in a logjam in the Northwest Division, a half-game back of second-place Denver and just 1 1/2 games out of last place. Thursday marks the beginning of a three-game homestand for Portland, and building momentum will be critical with a grueling eight-game road trip kicking off in less than a week.
* Over is 4-0 in the last four meetings.
* Over is 6-1-1 in the last eight meetings in Portland.
* Heat are 6-2 ATS in the last eight meetings in Portland.
* Heat are 2-6 ATS in the last eight meetings.
* Road team is 4-0 ATS in the last four meetings.
1. The road team has won six of the last seven head-to-head meetings.
2. The Heat lead the NBA at 103.7 points per game, and have averaged nearly 107 points over the course of their winning streak.
3. James averages 29.6 points. 9.6 rebounds and 7.6 assists in 16 career games against the Trail Blazers.
PREDICTION: Heat 111, Trail Blazers 97