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Knicks v Clippers, Celtics v Bulls in tight NBA Eastern Conference race

Daniel Coyle, American Sports Correspondent | January 19, 2015

LA Clippers (-1.5) @ NY Knicks

Both the New York Knicks and Boston Celtics will be in action on Friday night as they continue their duel for the eighth and final playoff spot in the NBA’s Eastern Conference.

Knicks will be gunning for a third consecutive straight up win when they play host to Los Angeles Clippers as 1.5-point underdogs, while the Celtics welcome Chicago Bulls to Beantown as narrow 3.5-point chalk in NBA betting with Coral.

New York will be looking to stay undefeated on their current three-game homestand after handing Utah a 118-111 loss on Wednesday night, easily covering as 2.5-point favourites to end a three-game losing skid against the spread.

The Knicks have been a revelation since mid-December, winning SU in 12 of their past 20 following a middling 10-14 start, smashing last season’s dismal 17-win total, and emerging as legitimate contenders to reach the postseason for the first time in three years.

Jazz Knicks Basketball

The club has also amassed a strong record at the sportsbook of late, going 14-7 ATS in their past 21 and covering in a conference-best 26 games so far this season, including seven of their last nine at Madison Square Garden.

Clippers (16/1 with Coral to be NBA Championship winner) are coming off a disappointing 115-102 loss in Cleveland on Thursday night in the first game of nine-day, five-game swing through Eastern Conference cities.

Los Angeles briefly held the lead early on against Cavaliers, but were largely dominated by Lebron James and company while posting an ATS loss as 6.5-point underdogs.

The loss ended LA’s eight-game SU winning streak against Eastern squads, which featured six lopsided wins by double-digit margins.

Clips had also emerged victorious in their previous five road dates, and arrive in the Big Apple looking to continue their recent domination of the Knicks, claiming six straight wins over New York, 5-0-1 ATS.

Los Angeles continue their road trip with a visit to Toronto to face the red-hot Raptors on Sunday, while Knicks are scheduled to visit Charlotte on Saturday. However, a massive winter storm on the American Eastern Seaboard could jeopardize that contest.

Chicago Bulls @ Boston Celtics (-3.5)

Celtics head into their Friday night date with Chicago in control of the eighth and final playoff spot in the East despite coming up short in their last two, including a 115-109 loss in Toronto on Wednesday.

Boston is a worrisome 4-8 SU over their past 12, and have become an increasingly unreliable bet with just seven ATS wins in their past 19 contests.

While, Celtics have picked up victories in their past two matchups at TD Garden, but have enjoyed little benefit from home cooking, going 4-6 SU in their past 10, 4-5-1 ATS, including a pair of three-game SU losing streaks.

Celtics Wizards Basketball

The club is also a feeble 3-6 SU in their past nine against Eastern Conference opponents, despite averaging just under 104 points per game during that stretch.

Bulls (20/1 to be NBA Championship winner) will be hungry for vengeance following a humiliating 125-94 home loss to the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday night.

Chicago have now lost five of seven SU, 1-6 ATS, during their worst slump of the season, outscored by an average of 14.2 points per game in those defeats.

The OVER has been a strong bet in recent Bulls contests, going 14-4 in their past 18, but it was the UNDER that prevailed in the most recent meeting between these clubs two weeks ago, when Chicago claimed a 101-92 win as 6-point chalk.

Celtics earned a 105-100 victory in their last meeting at TD Garden in early January, but the Bulls are a solid 9-3 SU, 8-3-1 ATS, in their last 12 overall against Boston.

Bulls are scheduled to visit Cavaliers on Saturday, while Boston heads to Philadelphia to battle the Sixers, weather permitting.

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