New York Knicks at Indiana Pacers (-4.5, 184.5)
The New York Knicks will be without suspended star Carmelo Anthony when they try to avoid a second consecutive loss - and their fourth defeat in six games - in a road game against the Indiana Pacers on Thursday. The NBA handed Anthony a one-game suspension Wednesday for his attempts to confront Boston's Kevin Garnett after the Knicks' home loss to the Celtics on Monday. Anthony leads the team and ranks second in the league with 29 points per game.
Facing the red-hot Pacers would have been enough of a challenge with Anthony in the lineup. Indiana has won two straight and 11 of 14, including an 87-77 home win over Miami on Tuesday. It's the second of four meetings this season and the first in Indiana. The Knicks won 88-76 on Nov. 18 at Madison Square Garden behind a game-high 26 points from Anthony. The Knicks have not lost a season series to the Pacers since they were swept in four games in the 2007-08 campaign.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, TNT, MSG (New York)
ABOUT THE KNICKS (23-11): Anthony's absence adds to an already depleted roster with point guard Raymond Felton (broken finger) and forward Rasheed Wallace (foot) out. The Knicks will need J.R. Smith (16.9 points, 5.2 rebounds) to pick up some of the scoring slack along with the frontcourt duo of Tyson Chandler (12.8 points, 10.5 rebounds) and Amar'e Stoudemire (10 points).
ABOUT THE PACERS (21-14): Indiana is one of the top defensive teams in the league, and it has been terrific at that end during its recent hot streak. The Pacers' frontcourt leads the way at the offensive end with David West (16.7 points, eight rebounds) and Paul George (16.7 points, 7.4 rebounds) tied for the team scoring lead. Point guard George Hill (14.7 points, five assists) recently returned from a groin injury that kept him out three games, but he had to leave against the Heat because of dehydration.
* Knicks are 4-0 ATS in their last four Thursday games.
* Knicks are 4-1 ATS in the last five meetings.
* Pacers are 4-1 ATS in their last five games vs. a team with a winning SU record.
* Knicks are 1-4-1 ATS in their last six road games.
1. The Knicks are 17-2 when holding opponents under 100 points and 10-0 when allowing less than 90 points.
2. The Pacers have won eight straight home games dating to Dec. 7 against Denver. They are 13-3 at home this season and 47-18 in their last 65 regular-season games at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
3. New York, which hosts Chicago on Friday, is 5-2 on the front end of back-to-back sets this season.
Miami Heat at Portland Trail Blazers (3.5, 196)
The Miami Heat strive to make their second contest of a six-game road trip more fun than the first when they visit the Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday. Miami scored a season-low 77 points during Tuesday’s 10-point loss to the Indiana Pacers, shooting just 41.2 percent from the field. Portland is a robust 12-4 at home – including eight straight victories – and is attempting to stretch its overall winning streak to four games.
The Trail Blazers have won 11 of their last 14 games after dispatching of the Orlando Magic on Monday. Portland’s home winning streak is its longest since claiming 12 straight during the 2008-09 campaign. The Trail Blazers are in third place in the Northwest Division. Miami has the best record in the Eastern Conference but has lost four of its last seven games. Two of the victories during the stretch came in overtime and the other was against the lowly Washington Wizards. The Heat are 7-7 on the road.
TV: 10:30 p.m. ET, TNT, Sun Sports (Miami)
ABOUT THE HEAT (23-10): Forward LeBron James and guard Dwyane Wade are accustomed to having strong performances against the Trail Blazers. James is averaging 30.1 points, 9.7 rebounds and 7.5 assists in 17 career games against Portland and is averaging 38.5 points over the last four contests. Wade is averaging 27 points in 17 career outings against the Trail Blazers and has averaged 35 over the last three meetings. James has scored 20 or more in all 33 games, the second-best such streak to start a season behind George Gervin, who did it in the first 45 games of the 1981-82 season.
ABOUT THE TRAIL BLAZERS (19-15): Portland’s victory over Orlando featured four players recording double-doubles. Forward LaMarcus Aldridge had 27 points and 10 rebounds, center J.J. Hickson had 20 points and 15 rebounds for his 20th double-double of the season, point guard Damian Lillard had 18 points and 10 assists and forward Nicolas Batum had 16 points and 10 assists. The last time the Trail Blazers had that occur was back in the 1997-98 campaign when Brian Grant, Isaiah Rider, Damon Stoudamire and Rasheed Wallace all had double-doubles in a game against the Phoenix Suns. Guard Wesley Matthews has scored 20 or more points in each of the past three games, averaging 23.7 points during the stretch while making 14 of 22 3-pointers.
* Heat are 0-4 ATS in their last four road games.
* Under is 4-0 in Heat last four vs. NBA Northwest.
* Trail Blazers are 6-0 ATS in their last six games vs. a team with a winning SU record.
* Over is 7-0 in Trail Blazers’ last sene vs. a team with a winning SU record.
1. Miami has won its last three visits to Portland.
2. The Trail Blazers are 10-2 in games decided by six or fewer points.
3. The Heat signed F Jarvis Varnado to a 10-day contract on Wednesday. Varnado played in five games for the Boston Celtics earlier this season.