The Boston Celtics’ seemingly irreversible slide toward irrelevance continues. And after four successive losses, including once unthinkable beatings at the hands of Cleveland, New Orleans and Detroit, the C’s now have a sub-.500 record and need a massive turnaround to stay in the NBA’s play-off spots.
An upturn won’t come easily when New York visit on Thursday but the Knicks will have to break a 13-game losing streak against their traditional rivals. When these teams met just two weeks ago, Boston took a 102-96 victory at Madison Square Garden in an ill-tempered game over-shadowed by Carmelo Anthony’s post-game stalking of Kevin Garnett.
Since then, the Knicks have gone 2-4 but the returning Iman Shumpert could help contain Rajon Rondo who has been one of their tougher foes. If the All Star can be held in check, then the New Yorkers – rated -1 on the handicap – could earn some payback.
Toronto have defeated Orlando three times already this season and they’ll try to make it a 4-0 sweep on their last trip to the Magic Kingdom this term. And with the hosts dropping three in a row, there are few positive signs of a recovery. The Raptors have just one win more in the standings but they’ve become a hard team to beat and over the last four weeks, they’ve never gone down by more than 12 points, which is where there’s great value on backing Canada’s finest on the handicap of +4 at 1.91.
We’re just five weeks into the Euroleague’s Top 16 Round but there’s already some separation between the top and bottom halves in both groups. The game of the week, in many senses, comes on Thursday when Maccabi Tel Aviv host Olympiakos in a battle of two teams for whom missing the Final Four would be a disaster.
Both are 1-3 but Maccabi’s problem has been a terrible defensive record, culminating in an 88-67 loss to Khimky last week. Defending champions Olympiakos have under-performed but they’re a tempting 2.75 to win or +4.5 on the handicap.
Bet of the Day: Back Toronto to beat Orlando.