By Kevin Rogers
The Wednesday NBA card is a full one with 13 games to bet on, including a handful of intriguing matchups in the Western Conference. The Lakers head to Dallas for a showdown with the Mavericks, while the Clippers look to snap a two-game skid against the struggling Nuggets. We'll start in Oklahoma City as the red-hot Thunder battles the beat-up Celtics.
Celtics at Thunder
Boston attempts to get back on track after dropping four straight games as the Celtics make the trip to Oklahoma City. During this four-game skid, each loss by Boston has come by nine points or more, including Monday's 89-73 setback at Dallas as 9½-point underdogs. The Thunder has won five of its previous six contests, but Oklahoma City failed to cover in home victories over New Orleans and Denver.
Oklahoma City is tied with San Antonio for the best home record in the league at 13-1, while winning 10 consecutive games at Chesapeake Energy Arena. The Thunder hosts the Lakers on Thursday night, so this may be a look-ahead spot against a Celtics' team that is without point guard Rajon Rondo (suspension). Kevin Garnett is listed as 'questionable' due to personal reasons, as the Celtics' veteran forward missed the last two losses against the Pistons and Mavericks.
The Thunder has struggled to cover large numbers as of late by posting a 1-5 ATS record the previous six games as six-point 'chalk' or more. Boston is in the same boat with a 2-8 ATS mark the last 10 contests, while the Celtics have scored 88 points or less in five of the past six games. Oklahoma City beat Boston, 97-88 as 2½-point road favorites on January 16, as the Celtics were held to 39% shooting from the floor.
Hawks at Knicks
Atlanta wraps up a five-game road trip as the Hawks head to Madison Square Garden to take on the Knicks. New York failed to get over the .500 mark in Monday's home setback to New Jersey as nine-point favorites, 100-92. Carmelo Anthony scored only 11 points in his return after missing seven games due to a groin injury. The Knicks finish their five-game homestand, as New York travels to Miami on Thursday to take on the Eastern Conference-leading Heat.
This road swing for Atlanta has turned disastrous with Larry Drew's team losing three of the first four games, including Monday's blowout defeat at Chicago, 90-79 as 10½-point 'dogs. The lone win for the Hawks on this trip came at Phoenix, but Atlanta followed up that victory with a clunker at Portland, falling to the Blazers, 97-77. The Hawks will be without leading scorer Joe Johnson on Wednesday, who suffered a knee injury and is listed as 'doubtful.'
The Knicks fell to 7-2 SU and 6-3 ATS since Jeremy Lin's insertion in the starting lineup in Monday's loss to the Nets. New York has managed to cash the 'under' in six of the last nine games, while allowing only New Jersey to eclipse the 100-point mark. The Hawks are making their first visit to MSG this season after splitting the four meetings last season, including a victory in New York last November.
Lakers at Mavericks
Dallas humiliated Los Angeles in a four-game sweep inside the Western Conference semifinals last May, as the two rivals meet up at the American Airlines Center on Wednesday. The Lakers are coming off a fantastic defensive effort in Monday's 103-92 triumph over the Blazers, as Portland was held to just seven points in the first quarter. Now, L.A. has to improve on its road woes against a Dallas team that has won seven of its past eight games.
The Lakers are just 2-4 SU and 1-5 ATS the last six games away from Staples Center, including Friday's blowout loss at Phoenix in which the Purple and Gold trailed by 23 points at the half. Mike Brown's club has eclipsed the 100-point mark in only one of 16 road contests, while scoring a season-low 73 points in a January 16 home triumph over the Mavs.
Dallas is riding a four-game home winning streak, while coming off Monday's rout of the shorthanded Celtics. The Mavericks' defense has stiffened up over the last 12 games by limiting 11 opponents to less than 100 points, but that resulted in just a 7-5 ledger to the 'under.' Rick Carlisle's squad has taken four of the last five home meetings from the Lakers, including three victories last season (including playoffs).
Nuggets at Clippers
Denver has fallen on hard times following a 14-5 start as the Nuggets head to Southern California to take on the Clippers. Los Angeles looks to put a halt to a two-game skid after Monday's loss at Golden State, as the Clippers are playing their final game before the All-Star break.
The Nuggets own a 4-10 record the last 14 games, as George Karl's team snapped a three-game skid in Monday's overtime triumph over the Wolves. Denver is 4-2 ATS the last six contests, including a 3-1 ATS mark as an underdog. The Nuggets dominated the Clippers in their last meeting, 112-91, as Denver overcame an early 13-point deficit to cash short road 'dogs.
The Clippers blew a late lead in Saturday's overtime setback to the Spurs, while falling short as 2½-point favorites at Golden State on Monday. Los Angeles has compiled an 8-2 SU/ATS record off a loss this season, including a 5-1 SU/ATS ledger at Staples Center. Vinny Del Negro's club is 7-4 ATS as a home favorite, while holding eight of 11 opponents to less than 100 points.