Atlantic Division Preview (Mar. 17)

The St. Patrick’s Day celebrations will be missing one quintessential component this year; the Boston Celtics. Doc Rivers’ side – which defeated Charlotte 105-88 on Saturday night to kick-off early celebrations – will be idle Sunday as the side awaits Miami’s visit on Monday.

Although the Celtics will not be in action, Sunday’s NBA slate features three Atlantic Division games each of which is intriguing for a very different reason.

Read on for BettingSports.com’s preview of all three games taking place in the Atlantic Division on Sunday.

New York Knicks at Los Angeles Clippers

New York's A-list of injuries will make winning on the road in Los Angeles that much tougher.

New York’s A-list of injuries will make winning on the road in Los Angeles that much tougher.

Having lost all three games on its current road trip, New York (38-25, 16-15 road) will be glad to see Louisville lift the Big East championship and vacate Madison Square Garden. The Knicks are in need of some serious home cooking.

Before Mike Woodson’s side makes it back to Manhattan though, trips to Los Angeles and Utah lay in wait.

The Knicks will challenge the Los Angeles Clippers (45-21, 25-8 home) on Sunday, not only looking to put the halters on a three game losing streak, but also looking to avenge a 102-88 loss to Vinny del Negro’s side at the Garden back on Feb. 10. Avenging that loss will be tough.

Carmelo Anthony (knee) missed Thursday’s 105-90 loss in Portland, and has now been absent for four of the last six games. Tyson Chandler (knee) also missed the game against the Blazers, after knocking his knee in Denver on Wednesday night. Both are questionable for Sunday’s lunchtime tip-off. Add to that the continued absence of Amar’e Stoudemire and you have a Knicks team lacking in the front court, something Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan will be looking to take advantage of.

The Clippers are not invincible though. The side came up short last Wednesday, losing 96-85 at home to Memphis. That makes it three losses from the last five games. Those sort of numbers could be quick to hinder the Los Angeles side’s hopes of home court advantage in the playoffs.

With Anthony and Chandler’s status yet to be confirmed, bookmakers had yet to release a line on this game at time of publication. Keep an eye on the NBA odds page for updates.

For the record: New York is 31-32-0 ATS this season with a 14-17-0 ATS record on the road. The Clippers are 37-29-0 ATS, and 20-13-0 ATS when playing at home.

New York (30-31-2) marginally favors the total to go under, while the Clippers (35-31-0) are more familiar with the over.

Atlanta Hawks at Brooklyn Nets

After missing Tuesday's game against New Orleans with a knee injury, Joe Johnson returns on Sunday to face his old team.

After missing Tuesday’s game against New Orleans with a knee injury, Joe Johnson returns on Sunday to face his old team.

If the Knicks fall to the Clippers earlier in the day, the Nets can finish Sunday in the Atlantic Division’s top spot.

Just one game behind New York, and with a 3-1 advantage in the head to head, Brooklyn (38-27, 22-13 home) will need to secure a win over the Hawks to do so. The Nets have already done that twice this season, including a Jan. 18 victory at Barclays Center.

The Nets have won four of the last five, and two straight at home. The side will be well-rested entering this one having not taken to the hardwood since a 109-98 defeat of New Orleans on Tuesday.

Atlanta (36-29, 15-18 road) is two games behind Brooklyn, with an identical record to Boston and Chicago. With the playoff race so tight, wins are becoming more and more important.

The Hawks have nabbed two straight wins after losing six of the previous seven. Friday’s home win against Phoenix saw Josh Smith and Jeff Teague both return to the fold after injuries had kept the pair out. That’s good news for a team looking to improve its playoff berth.

Winning in Brooklyn could be tough for Larry Drew’s side, which has dropped five straight on the road. Prior to that streak, the Hawks had scored five straight road wins. To say the Hawks have been a streaky side this season would be an understatement.

Atlanta enters the game as the underdog with the spread at four points.

The Hawks are 30-33-2 ATS this season with a 17-16-0 ATS record on the road and a 12-14-0 ATS record as the underdog.

Brooklyn is also 30-33-2 ATS this campaign, and has tallied a 14-19-2 ATS record at Barclays Center and a 16-17-2 ATS record when playing as the favorite.

The total opened at 187.5. Atlanta (32-32-1) has split the over/under evenly this season, while Brooklyn (28-37-0) has favored the under.

Miami Heat at Toronto Raptors

Heat_Raptors

Miami’s 21-game winning streak began in Toronto; will it continue there on Sunday?

On Feb. 3, the Raptors fell 100-85 to the Heat at the Air Canada Center. For the side from north of the border, that game was inauspicious, just a 31st loss of the season. For the team from South Beach, it was something much more special.

Since that Super Bowl Sunday defeat of the Raptors, Miami (50-14, 20-11 road) is unbeaten. The Heat ran its historic streak up to 21 games with a 107-94 defeat of the Bucks in Milwaukee on Friday. With a win over the Raptors on Sunday, Miami would tie the 2007-2008 Houston Rockets for the second longest winning streak in NBA history.

Toronto (26-40, 17-16 home) will be more than happy to play party-pooper. The Raptors have won three of the last five, and enter this game with a two-game home winning streak. The Raptors are actually 5-3 over the last eight at home, a record that suggests Dwane Casey’s side might not be as bad as its record suggests.

Miami had a tougher time of it against the Raptors in South Beach on Jan. 23, needing overtime to win 123-116. But this is a very different Heat side now, one that looks unstoppable. But how many times have ‘unstoppable’ teams fallen against the unlikeliest of hurdles?

Toronto will enter this game as the underdog, with the spread at 6.5. Both teams have covered the spread once in their two previous meetings this season.

Toronto is 33-32-1 ATS this season, with a 17-16-0 ATS record at Air Canada Center and a 24-22-1 ATS record as the underdog.

Miami is 34-30-0 ATS this campaign with a 17-14-0 ATS tally on the road and a 31-30-0 ATS record at the favorite. During this 21-game winning streak, the Heat is 13-8-0 ATS.

The total opened at 195. Toronto (32-34-0) has favored the under this season while Miami (32-32-0) has split the over/under evenly. Although the Heat has been free-scoring of late, the side has seen the total go over just twice in the last eight games.

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