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Celtics take on the Heat in Thursday’s NBA headliner

Nick Murphy | 19 December 2017

Three big games from the US 

Christmas may be coming but the NBA action doesn’t stop stateside.

It’s a big night across the pond, with 24 teams taking to the court ahead of the festive period.

San Antonio Spurs travel to the Portland Trail Blazers, while the Boston Celtics host the Miami Heat in the pick of the games.

Elsewhere, the Golden State Warriors will look to beat the Memphis Grizzlies for the second time this season when they go head-to-head at the Oracle Centre.

The Coral News Team have put together a preview of those three games.

Heat @ Celtics

00:30 AM [UK Time] Thursday 21st December

Earlier this season, the Heat ended the Celtics’ 16-game win streak. Since then, Thursday’s home team have a ten and four record. By contrast, the Heat have gone seven and six, although they have won their last four as the road team.

Trips to Boston tend to be difficult for coach Erik Spoelstra’s side, though. They lost on both visits last season by a combined total of seven points. They have injury issues to deal with but will be encouraged by the home team’s poor 95-107 defeat to Utah last time out.

The Celtics will have to continue to do without Marcus Morris who remains missing with a knee injury. Daniel Theis will join him on the sideline after having his nose reset. That could leave the hosts short in the forward position, which may give the Heat the edge.

However, if they are to win they’ll have to stem the influence of star player Kyrie Irving. He shot 30 points or more in three of his last four games and proved the key difference in Monday’s tight 112-111 win over the Pacers.

Grizzlies @ Warriors

00:30 AM [UK Time] Thursday 21st December

The Grizzlies have an unenviable task at Oracle Centre. They must try and do what nine successive teams have failed to do – beat the Warriors. On the road it’s an even tougher assignment. Only the Sacramento Kings have won at the Oracle Centre since late October.

Kevin Durrant, Omri Casspi and Draymond Green have been the stars of the show in a relentless offensive display that has seen the Warriors climb to second in the Western Conference.

Although the Grizzlies beat their opponents earlier in the season, it’s unlikely they’ll have the capacity to make it two from two in this one.

Their recent form doesn’t read well. J.B. Bickerstaff’s side have only won twice in their last 19 matches and are winless on the road since 7 November. A season-best performance is required here if they’re to upset the odds for a second time this season.

Spurs @ Trail Blazers

03:00 AM [UK Time] Thursday 21st December

For a team fifth in the Western Conference, the Trail Blazers’ home form is remarkably poor. The Oregon outfit are seven and eight at the Moda Centre – the worst home court record in the top-half of either Conference.

Luckily for them, the Spurs have shown signs of struggle on the road. The road team have lost three of their last four on their travels, including last time out against the Rockets. More worrying is their lack of cutting edge.

The Spurs are consistently failing to score points when not surrounded by home comforts. They’ve shot 95 or less in nine of their 14 away games so far this season. Combine that with the weak form of LaMarcus Aldridge in recent weeks and the Coral News Team think that the Blazers could well edge this contest.

Click here for the latest NBA odds from Coral.