New York Knicks at Chicago Bulls (+4, 190.5)
Two weeks after ending the Miami Heat's string of 27 consecutive wins, the Chicago Bulls have a chance to play streak-busters again when they host the red-hot New York Knicks on Thursday. The Knicks have ripped off 13 straight victories but have dropped all three meetings this season to the injury-riddled Bulls, who are trying to hold off the Atlantic Hawks for the No. 5 seed in the Eastern Conference.
While Chicago has faltered down the stretch, losing back-to-back games to conference also-rans Detroit and Toronto, the Knicks are on their best tear in two decades. Tuesday's rout of the Washington Wizards clinched New York's first Atlantic Division title since 1994 and gave the team its longest winning streak since winning 15 in a row during that same season. The Knicks own a 2 1/2-game lead over Indiana for the No. 2 seed in the East.
TV: 8 p.m. TNT, MSG (New York)
ABOUT THE KNICKS (51-26, 43-32-2 ATS): Carmelo Anthony continued his Jordanesque roll with his fifth consecutive game of at least 36 points. He is averaging 40.6 points during that span and holds a razor-thin edge over Kevin Durant (28.6 to 28.3) for the league scoring title. Tuesday's win was dulled by an injury to forward Kenyon Martin, who suffered what coach Mike Woodson termed a "severe sprain" of his left ankle. The injury to Martin, who missed the previous two games with a sore knee, further depletes a front line. Center Tyson Chandler sat out Tuesday due to soreness from the neck injury that recently caused him to miss 10 games.
ABOUT THE BULLS (42-35, 34-43-0 ATS): Chicago was missing four players in Tuesday's loss to Toronto and that figures to be the case again versus the Knicks. Center Joakim Noah, who aggravated a plantar fascia injury in Sunday's home loss to Detroit, is planning to get a cortisone shot to help him get back on the court. Forwards Luol Deng (hip) and Taj Gibson (knee) are expected to sit out against New York. The status on Rose, who has yet to play this season following major knee surgery, remains the same. On the plus side, guard Richard Hamilton (back) saw his first action since Feb. 26 and Marco Belinelli was back in the starting lineup.
* Over is 5-2 in the last seven meetings.
* Underdog is 6-1 ATS in the last seven meetings.
* Knicks are 0-4 ATS in the last four meetings.
1. New York hasn't been swept by the Bulls since losing all four meetings in 2003-04.
2. Seven of Chicago's last eight games have been decided by four points or fewer.
3. Anthony is the first Knicks player with five straight games of 35 or more points since Bernard King in 1984-85.
Oklahoma City Thunder at Golden State Warriors (+3.5, 204.5)
The Golden State Warriors clinched their first playoff berth since the 2006-07 season on Tuesday. Ironically, if they want to avoid beginning the playoffs against the Oklahoma City Thunder, it would be in the Warriors’ best interests to beat the visiting Thunder on Thursday. Golden State is trying to beat out the Houston Rockets for the No. 6 spot in the Western Conference, which would avoid either Oklahoma City or San Antonio in the first round.
The Thunder are tied with the Spurs for first place in the West and home-court advantage throughout the Western Conference playoffs. Oklahoma City helped the Warriors clinch a playoff berth by beating the Utah Jazz on Tuesday and has won four of its last five while focusing on the defensive end. Golden State will try to keep Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant out of the lane with their Andrew Bogut-led frontline while making them work on the perimeter.
TV: 10:30 p.m. ET, TNT
ABOUT THE THUNDER (57-21, 47-29-2 ATS): Oklahoma City has been tuning up for the playoffs by showing off on the defensive end. The top-scoring team in the NBA for much of the season, the Thunder have slowed the pace recently and have held opponents an average of 84.9 points in their last seven wins. Two of the best performances of that span came on the road at Indiana in a 97-75 victory on Friday and in Tuesday’s 90-80 victory at Utah. Kevin Durant has not slowed his own scoring much during the recent run and went for 21 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists against the Jazz on Tuesday. Westbrook has put up 27.2 points, 8.6 rebounds and 7.2 assists in the last five games after scoring 21 or fewer in each of the previous five contests.
ABOUT THE WARRIORS (45-33, 39-38-1 ATS): Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson can match Durant and Westbrook shot for shot when they get going, and Thompson has recently pulled out of a long slump. The second-year guard scored 25 of his 30 points in the first half on Tuesday to keep Golden State in the game before Curry came alive after the break to guide the Warriors past the Minnesota Timberwolves 105-89. Even more impressive than Curry and Thompson on the perimeter Tuesday was the inside play of David Lee, Bogut and Harrison Barnes. Each of the three finished in double figures in rebounds as Golden State dominated up front. Bogut has turned into a defensive force in the middle who rarely scores unless it is off an offensive rebound. That leaves Lee to grab rebounds off the weak side and focus on scoring while Barnes and Carl Landry offer support.
* Home team is 4-0 ATS in the last four meetings.
* Thunder are 5-1 ATS in the last six meetings.
* Favorite is 5-1 ATS in the last six meetings.
* Over is 5-2 in the last seven meetings.
1. Curry (249) and Thompson (203) are first and second in the NBA in 3-pointers and are the first pair of teammates to each go over 200 since Paul Pierce and Antoine Walker for the Boston Celtics in 2001-02.
2. Oklahoma City has taken five of the previous six in the series but lost at Golden State 104-99 on Jan. 23.
3. Durant has averaged 30.4 points and 8.7 rebounds in 20 career games against the Warriors.