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NEW YORK KNICKS (51-26) at CHICAGO BULLS (42-35) Line & Total: New York -4 & 190.5
The Knicks try to stay sizzling-hot on Thursday, while attempting to avoid being swept in the season series with the host Bulls.
New York has won 13 straight games SU (12-1 ATS), with the most recent victory on Tuesday clinching the Atlantic Division with a resounding 120-99 victory over Washington. Meanwhile, Chicago has lost five of its past six games ATS, including two straight SU losses to Detroit and Toronto, which have a combined 57-100 SU record (36%) this season. Both of these teams are seriously depleted with injuries. The Knicks will be without six players, all in the frontcourt -- C Tyson Chanlder (neck), C Marcus Camby (foot), PF Amar'e Stoudemire (knee) PF Kenyon Martin (ankle), PF Rasheed Wallace (foot) and SF Kurt Thomas (foot). The Bulls will likely be missing four of their best players in C Joakim Noah, (foot), PF Taj Gibson (knee), PG Derrick Rose (knee), and SF Luol Deng (hip), who is doubtful to suit up on Thursday. Chicago has won all three meetings (SU and ATS) in this season series and is 7-1 SU (5-3 ATS) in the past eight matchups with the Bulls. New York is a putrid 3-19 SU in its past 22 trips to United Center, but is 11-7 ATS (61%) in the past 18 visits to Chicago.
New York's offense has been strong all season with 100.0 PPG (11th in NBA), but the team's love of the three-point shot keeps its overall FG Pct. at just 44.9% (15th in league). However, there's a reason the Knicks attempt so many shots from long range (28.8 per game), because they make an NBA-best 10.9 threes per game on a sparkling 37.7% clip (4th in NBA). During the 13-game win streak, the team is averaging 105.8 PPG on 50.1% FG and 42.5% threes. This is also a strong defensive team with 95.6 PPG allowed (7th in NBA) despite giving up 45.8% FG (18th in league) and 36.2% threes (19th in NBA). Nobody is hotter in the league than SF Carmelo Anthony (league-high 28.6 PPG) who has scored more than 35 points in five straight games. In this amazing stretch to start off April, Anthony has 40.6 PPG on 61% FG and 59% threes. He's also pulled down 11.3 RPG over his past three contests. Anthony has lit up the Bulls this season with 34.0 PPG, but has done so with a 42% FG clip. SG J.R. Smith (17.8 PPG, 5.2 RPG) has shot even worse against Chicago this season with 18.0 PPG on 33% FG. But like Anthony, he's also having a huge April with 20.4 PPG on 45% FG, 37% threes and 5.2 RPG in the five games. PG Raymond Felton (14.0 PPG, 5.5 APG) has done a masterful job of running the offense in the past two games with 16 assists and just one turnover to go along with 13.0 PPG. He's pumped in 24.0 PPG in two meetings with the Bulls this season, but has made just 35% of his shots. SF Iman Shumpert (6.2 PPG) has not faced Chicago this season, but enters this game on a real high note. After going scoreless in two straight games (0-for-9 FG combined), Shumpert dropped 18 points (7-of-10 FG, 4-of-6 threes) in Tuesday's division-clinching win over Washington. SF Chris Copeland (7.4 PPG) also made 4-of-6 threes against the Wizards, finishing with 17 points and nine boards in that win.
Chicago's offense has been horrible all season with a league-worst 92.8 PPG on 43.6% FG (5th-worst in NBA) and 5.2 made threes per game (2nd-fewest in league) on a poor 34.5% clip (7th-worst in NBA). However, this team has put up major points in its three wins versus the Knicks this season with 103.7 PPG on 48% FG and 48% threes (20-of-42). The defense remains top-notch, as the Bulls have given up just 92.5 PPG (3rd in NBA) on 44.3% FG (9th in league) and 34.7% threes (7th in NBA). Chicago is also a strong rebounding club (+2.2 RPG margin, 7th in league) and should be able to dominate a Knicks team lacking any size or depth in its frontcourt. PF Carlos Boozer (16.1 PPG, 9.5 RPG) should be the biggest beneficiary of New York's injury woes, and is certainly capable of better numbers than his 12.7 PPG and 7.7 RPG in the season series. Boozer enters this contest on quite a roll with double-doubles in nine of his past 11 games, averaging 19.1 PPG and 11.6 RPG over this span. PG Nate Robinson (12.9 PPG, 4.4 APG) has gotten more minutes recently, and he has responded with 19.7 PPG (9-of-21 threes) over his past three contests. But he hasn't been nearly as effective against his former team with a paltry 10.0 PPG on 32% FG in three meetings this season. SF Jimmy Butler (8.3 PPG) is coming off a career-high 28 points in Tuesday's loss, where he made 10-of-12 FG (3-of-3 threes) with seven rebounds and two steals. Butler has been a non-factor in this series though, with just 4.7 PPG and 4.3 RPG in the three meetings. SG Richard Hamilton (10.1 PPG) finally returned to action after missing 19 games with a back injury, but wasn't very effective in Tuesday's loss to Toronto with four points (2-of-5 FG) and one assist in 14 minutes.
OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER (57-21) at GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS (45-33) Line & Total: Oklahoma City -4 & 204
The Thunder will try to claim the top spot in the Western Conference on Thursday when they visit a Golden State team that has already clinched its spot in the postseason.
With the Spurs losing at Denver on Wednesday, both San Antonio and Oklahoma City are tied atop the West with 57-21 records. The Thunder have reached this point with a 7-2 SU record (6-3 ATS) in their past nine games. They started a three-game road trip on Tuesday with a 10-point victory at Utah. The Warriors are also playing great basketball, winning eight of their past 11 games SU (7-4 ATS) including a playoff-clinching, 105-89 drubbing of Minnesota on Tuesday night. The home team has won all three meetings (SU and ATS) this season, with the two Thunder home wins coming by double-digits and the lone Golden State victory being a 104-99 home victory on Jan. 23. But Oklahoma City has dominated this series over the past four seasons, going 10-3 SU (6-6-1 ATS) versus the Warriors. Both teams are virtually injury-free in this matchup.
Oklahoma City could be the most complete team in the NBA, scoring 105.8 PPG (2nd in NBA) and allowing teams to shoot just 42.5% FG (also 2nd in league). During its 7-2 SU surge, the Thunder are scoring 101.3 PPG on 48% FG (40% threes) while limiting opponents to 91.1 PPG on 40% FG (33% threes). Not only do the Thunder shoot a very high percentage from the field (48.1% FG, 3rd in NBA), but they also make 38.1% threes (3rd in league). This team is tough to move around down low, consistently battling on the glass with a +3.0 RPG margin (5th in NBA) and blocking a league-best 7.7 shots per game. SF Kevin Durant (28.3 PPG, 7.9 RPG, 4.5 APG) has been on fire for the past month, starting a streak of 16 straight 20-point games on March 10. During this stretch, he's posted 27.3 PPG on 51% FG, 38% threes and 91% free throws, while adding 8.3 RPG and 3.9 APG. His numbers have been even better in the season series with Golden State -- 27.7 PPG (55% FG), 8.3 RPG 7.7 APG. This has been part of his 30.4 PPG in his career versus the Warriors, marking his highest lifetime scoring clip against any opponent. PG Russell Westbrook (23.4 PPG, 7.5 APG, 5.4 RPG, 1.8 SPG) also has a 20-point streak going, surpassing that mark in each of his past five games, averaging 27.2 PPG, 8.6 RPG and 7.2 APG during this stretch. Westbrook has also posted some nice numbers in the series (20.7 PPG, 5.3 APG, 3.3 SPG), despite hitting just 40% FG against the Warriors. PF Serge Ibaka (13.2 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 3.1 BPG) has been strong against Golden State with 14.3 PPG on 58% FG, plus 7.3 RPG and 3.7 BPG. Ibaka has tallied at least 10 points in six straight games, scoring 13.0 PPG on 63% FG with his typical 8.3 RPG and 4.5 BPG. SG Kevin Martin (13.9 PPG) has been the one really cold player on this Thunder roster, averaging just 8.7 PPG on 36% FG and 6-of-22 threes (27%) in the past six contests. A date with Golden State should help Martin heat up again, as he's scored 20.0 PPG on 55% FG in the season series.
Golden State generates much of its 100.9 PPG of offense (9th in NBA) from its stellar three-point shooting (40.2%), which is the best in the league. The defense allows 99.9 PPG (19th in NBA), but holds teams to extremely low shooting percentages of 43.7% FG (3rd in NBA) and 34.2% threes (5th in league). This is also a tough rebounding team with 44.8 total RPG (2nd in NBA) and a +2.0 RPG margin (9th in NBA). PF David Lee (18.6 PPG, 11.3 RPG) is the biggest reason for these strong rebounding numbers, as he leads the NBA with 53 double-doubles, seven more than any other player, including four in a row. He's also averaged a double-double against the Thunder this season with 18.8 PPG and 11.0 RPG. PG Stephen Curry (22.5 PPG, 6.9 APG, 4.0 RPG) has pumped in 22.3 PPG and 8.0 APG in the season series and is also red-hot in his past five games, scoring 24.6 PPG on 47% FG (42% threes) with 9.0 APG. SG Klay Thompson (16.4 PPG, 3.8 RPG) has been even hotter in his past three contests, pouring in 25.0 PPG on 54% FG and 11-of-17 threes (65%). He has a solid 14.0 PPG on 46% shooting versus the Thunder this season. PG Jarrett Jack (13.0 PPG, 5.5 APG) started off April on a high note with 16.5 PPG and 6.0 APG in his first two games, but has just 11 points on 5-of-17 FG (29%) in his past two contests. Jack has been strong in the season series though, posting 10.5 PPG (59% FG) and 6.5 APG versus the Thunder. PF Carl Landry (10.7 PPG, 5.9 RPG) has also shined against Oklahoma City with 14.3 PPG and 6.0 RPG in the three meetings, and will try to bounce back from a horrid Tuesday game when he scored five points on 2-of-7 shooting.

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