Miami Heat at Boston Celtics (+3.5, 187.5)
The Boston Celtics are heading toward oblivion and their next opponent could speed up their journey. The skidding Celtics will attempt to avoid a seventh consecutive loss when they host the Miami Heat and ex-teammate Ray Allen in a Sunday matinee. Boston saw its losing streak reach six games in stunning fashion, blowing a 27-point lead in Atlanta and falling in double overtime to the Hawks on Friday night. The skid, coming on the heels of a six-game winning streak, dropped the Celtics three games below .500.
Miami, which owns the best record in the Eastern Conference, has ripped off four straight victories after steamrolling the Detroit Pistons 110-88 on Friday night. The Heat have been rather ordinary away from home with a 10-9 record, but they won their last two road games in impression fashion by knocking off Golden State and the Los Angeles Lakers on back-to-back nights. Boston is the first stop of a four-game road trip for Miami, which will have played 10 of 12 games away from home when it's over.
TV: 1 p.m., ABC
CONSENSUS: 66 percent of Covers Consensus plays are on Miami while 43 percent are on the under.
ABOUT THE HEAT (28-12, 20-20-0 ATS): Allen played a pivotal role in Boston's run to a championship in 2008, but the sight of him in a Miami uniform has to be galling for Celtics fans - particularly after he turned down a more lucrative offer from Boston to sign with the Heat in the offseason. Content to be a role player with Miami, Allen is averaging 11.4 points and shooting 44.6 percent from behind the arc. He told the Sun-Sentinel of South Florida he doesn't know what kind of greeting to expect. "I have great memories. ... I'll always cherish those moments," he said. "Regardless of how they respond to me, it won't change how I feel."
ABOUT THE CELTICS (20-23, 14-26-3 ATS): Guard Avery Bradley may feel a little extra pressure due to Allen's return. He replaced Allen in Boston's starting lineup last season, leading to speculation that was among the reasons Allen's opted to take his shooting talents to South Beach. Known as one of the league's better on-ball defenders, Bradley has his second-highest output with 14 points on 6-of-11 shooting against Atlanta. It was only the third time in 12 games that Bradley scored in double figures. He missed the first two months while recuperating from two shoulder surgeries.
* Over is 6-1 in the last seven meetings.
* Under is 19-8-1 in the last 28 meetings in Boston.
* Home team is 16-7 ATS in the last 23 meetings.
* Heat are 2-10 ATS in the last 12 meetings in Boston.
1. Miami beat the Celtics in seven games in the Eastern Conference finals last season, winning Game 6 in Boston behind 45 points from LeBron James.
2. Celtics PG Rajon Rondo is coming off back-to-back triple-doubles for Boston, which last lost six straight from April 4-15, 2007.
3. Allen, the NBA's career 3-point leader, scored 19 points in a 120-107 season-opening win over Boston.
Oklahoma City Thunder at Los Angeles Lakers (+3, 206.5)
The Los Angeles Lakers finally squeezed out a win on Friday to snap a four-game slide. If they want to make it back-to-back triumphs, the host Lakers will have to figure out a way around the NBA-best Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday. Los Angeles found a formula against the Utah Jazz on Friday with Kobe Bryant acting mainly as a distributor on offense while the team played strong defense.
The Thunder are making the final stop in a six-game road trip and have taken three of the first five after easily dispatching the Sacramento Kings on Friday. Oklahoma City is the top scoring team in the NBA and will test Los Angeles’ new-found defense with two of the best scorers in the league in Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. The Lakers have won their last five games when allowing less than 95 points.
TV: 3:30 p.m. ABC
CONSENSUS: 85 percent of Cover Consensus plays are on Oklahoma City while 69 percent are on the under.
ABOUT THE THUNDER (34-10, 26-16-2 ATS): Oklahoma City has shown signs of fatigue on the current trip but had a day off on Saturday to rest up for the Lakers. The Thunder squandered a late lead in a loss at Golden State on Wednesday and got off to a sluggish start at Sacramento on Friday before busting out and pushing the lead to as much as 25 points in the third quarter en route to a 105-95 triumph. Sunday marks the end of a stretch of 11 of 13 games on the road for Oklahoma City, which included a 116-101 victory over the Lakers at Staples Center on Jan. 11. Durant went for 42 points and Westbrook added 27 and 10 assists as the Thunder shot 50.6 percent in the easy victory.
ABOUT THE LAKERS (18-25, 17-25-1 ATS): For all the talk of Los Angeles’ issues on offense, the team ranks among the top scoring teams in the NBA at an average of 102.3 points. The overlooked problem has been on the defensive end, where the Lakers rank in the bottom five in points allowed. They made a much stronger effort on that end against Utah on Friday, holding the Jazz to 37 points in the first half. Bryant handed out a season-high 14 assists while matching a season-low with only 10 field goal attempts in the 102-84 victory. Los Angeles held a team meeting before a loss to Memphis on Wednesday to air some grievances and looked like a more cohesive unit on Friday. The Lakers are still seven games below .500 but will face four straight teams with losing records after the Thunder exit Staples Center.
* Over is 4-1 in the last five meetings.
* Thunder are 4-1-1 ATS in the last six meetings in Los Angeles.
* Thunder are 3-1-1 ATS in the last five meetings.
* Favorite is 3-1-1 ATS in the last five meetings.
* Road team is 4-1-1 ATS in the last six meetings.
1. Oklahoma City has taken each of the first two meetings this season and have won four straight and eight of the last 10 in the series.
2. Los Angeles coach Mike D’Antoni was reportedly given a vote of confidence by team management.
3. Lakers C Dwight Howard (shoulder) collected 17 points and 13 rebounds on Friday after leaving the previous game with the injury.