All-Star point guard Isaiah Thomas aims for a team-record 41st consecutive 20-point performance Thursday, when the Boston Celtics close play prior to the All-Star break by visiting the Chicago Bulls. Thomas scored 33 points to match Hall-of-Famer John Havlicek’s franchise mark of 40 set in 1971-72 as Boston posted a 116-108 victory over Philadelphia on Wednesday.
Thomas also is taking aim at Larry Bird’s single-season scoring average record (29.9 points in 1987-88), as he has the same mark as the Hall-of-Famer with 26 games remaining. “I always say it. It doesn’t seem real for my name to be mentioned with such greats and Hall-of-Famers,” Thomas told reporters. “It doesn’t seem like it should be like that. It means I’m doing something well. I’m just glad we’re winning on top of being mentioned with all these great players.” Chicago All-Star swingman Jimmy Butler (heel), who had missed four of five games, is closer to full strength after scoring 19 points and matching his season best of 12 assists in Tuesday’s 105-94 victory over Toronto. “It feels good,” Butler told reporters despite a 2-of-10 shooting performance. “That’s all there is to say. There wasn’t that much pain at all. Now it’s all about getting in rhythm.”
TV: 8 p.m. ET, TNT
LINE HISTORY: The Bulls opened as 1.5-point home underdogs and that line has quickly dropped 2.5-points to Chicago -1. The total opened at 212 and as of Thursday morning has yet to move. Check out the complete line history here.
Celtics – SF Gerald Green (Questionable, heel), SF Jaylen Brown (Out, hip), SG Avery Bradley (Out indefinitely, achilles), PG Demetrius Jackson (Out indefinitely, illness)
Bulls – SG Dwyane Wade (Questionable, wrist), PF Nikola Mirotic (Out, back), SF Paul Zipser (Out, ankle)
COVERS POWER RANKINGS: Celtics (-6.4) – Bulls (-1.9) + home court (-3) = Celtics -1.5
ABOUT THE CELTICS (37-19 SU, 29-25-2 ATS, 31-24-1 O/U): Boston has recorded four straight victories and won 11 of its last 12 games thanks to the superb efforts of Thomas. The 5-9 dynamo has topped 25 points in 10 consecutive contests – averaging 33.9 during that stretch – and has scored 35 or more on 14 occasions this season. The Celtics were sloppy by committing a season-worst 24 turnovers on Wednesday but forced 22 behind a superb defensive performance by guard Marcus Smart, who recorded a career-best eight steals.
ABOUT THE BULLS (27-29 SU, 27-29 ATS, 21-34-1 O/U): Shooting guard Dwyane Wade (wrist) has missed the last two games, and his availability will be determined after Thursday’s shootaround. Wade underwent an MRI exam earlier this week, and the results indicated the injury isn’t a long-term issue, but the Bulls also don’t want him to experience a setback prior to the All-Star break. Forward Nikola Mirotic (back) also has missed the last two contests and appears unlikely to play on Thursday.
* Celtics are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games following a ATS loss.
* Bulls are 6-1 ATS in their last 7 home games vs. a team with a winning road record.
* Over is 10-1-1 in Celtics last 12 road games vs. a team with a winning home record.
* Over is 4-1 in Bulls last 5 games following a ATS win.
* Favorite is 6-0 ATS in the last 6 meetings.
Check out a complete list of hot and cold trends, here.
COVERS CONSENSUS: 69 percent of Covers users are siding with the road underdog Boston Celtics and Over is picking up 59 percent of the totals wagers. View full consensus data here.