For many of the 26 teams that are in action on Wednesday night's NBA betting card, it will be their final game before the All-Star break. The Boston Celtics are among that group, and they are facing a pivotal test in one of the showcase games on the Hump Day slate at the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Boston enters this one at 15-16 SU and just 13-18 ATS on the campaign. The team remains in the Eastern Conference playoff picture, but just barely in the No. 8 slot, and the Celtics would feel a heck of a lot better going into the break with a .500 record than being two games below the break-even line.
This isn't going to be the easiest task in the world, though. The C's only have four victories away from home this year, the fourth fewest among Eastern Conference teams, and they are going up against an Oklahoma City team that is 13-1 SU and 7-7 ATS at home.
Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka have been mammoth lately for the team with the best record in the West. In this three-game Oklahoma City winning streak, Durant has averaged 35.0 PPG, Westbrook has put up 29.7 PPG, and Ibaka has averaged 10.7 PPG, 11.3 RPG plus a rather insane 5.3 BPG.
The good news for the Celtics is they expect to have Kevin Garnett back for Wednesday's tilt after the forward missed two games attending to a family matter. However, Boston will be without Rajon Rondo as he finishes up a 2-game suspension stemming from an incident in Sunday's upset loss against the Pistons.
Boston is 5-3 ATS in the last eight clashes in this series. The road team has also won five straight SU and ATS over the last three seasons.
The Thunder will be looking for the series sweep this year though, after winning 97-84 in Beantown in the middle of January. The tip time for Wednesday's encounter is set for 7:00 p.m. (ET) with live coverage coming on ESPN.
In the second half of the doubleheader at 9:30 p.m. (ET) on ESPN, the Dallas Mavericks will take on the Los Angeles Lakers in a rematch of last year's Western Conference semifinals. Dallas was able to sweep the Lakers out of the playoffs last year, but LA got at least a small measure of revenge with a 73-70 win at Staples Center on January 16. Still, the Mavs were good enough to cover that day, giving them five covers in a row in this series.
Both of these squads are hot right now; the Lakers have taken four out of five (3-2 ATS in that stretch), while the Mavericks are winners of seven out of eight (6-2 ATS).
Carmelo Anthony had a miserable return to the lineup for the New York Knicks after sitting out seven games with a groin injury. He only put up 11 points in a dismal loss on Tuesday against the New Jersey Nets. Anthony and the Knicks now turn their attention to the struggling Atlanta Hawks at Madison Square Garden Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. (ET).
Atlanta is just 3-7 SU an ATS in its last seven games, and 3-8 ATS in the last 11 meetings in this series.
For the Knicks, the hope is that Linsanity continues. Jeremy Lin put up 21 in his first game with both Anthony and Amare Stoudemire in the lineup. The Harvard product is now averaging 24.6 PPG and 9.2 APG since bursting onto the scene on February 4.
There are definitely some other interesting games on tap Wednesday night as well.
Dwight Howard has made it known that he would love to play for New Jersey, and he'll get a shot to see what the Nets have to offer when he leads his Orlando Magic into the Garden State at 7:30 p.m. (ET).
The Denver Nuggets have been sliding just a bit without Danilo Gallinari in the lineup. They are 3-6 SU without him in the fold, and will take on the Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center in the last tip of the night at 10:30 (ET).
In 7:00 (ET) tips, the Indiana Pacers face the lowly Charlotte Bobcats, the New Orleans Hornets take on the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Toronto Raptors play host to the Detroit Pistons and the Washington Wizards try to improve upon their 4-12 record at Verizon Center when the Sacramento Kings come to town.
At 8:00 (ET), the Philadelphia 76ers continue their rough stretch against the Houston Rockets in the Lone Star State, while the Milwaukee Bucks face the Chicago Bulls. The Minnesota Timberwolves take on the Utah Jazz as well at 8:00.