NBA Thursday betting preview: Fade shorthanded Raptors at Celtics
Andrew D. Bernstein / National Basketball Association / Getty

We're bringing a 7-2 record against the spread this week into Thursday, which is the last day of NBA games before the All-Star break.

Here are a few of our favorite plays.

Raptors @ Celtics (-8.5, 220)

In a season this volatile, sometimes you have to throw records and matchups out the window and let information be your guide.

That's the case in this game, when five Raptors players - Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet, OG Anunoby, Malachi Flynn, and Patrick McCaw - will likely be sidelined for the second straight contest due to COVID-19 protocols. Toronto was blown out by 24 points against the lowly Pistons without those players.

The Celtics haven't been the juggernauts some expected this year, but they've improved defensively over their last three games, and Boston should rise to the occasion against a depleted Raptors roster.

Pick: Celtics -8.5

Kings @ Trail Blazers (-4.5, 237)

The Kings have been among the worst teams to bet on this season, and their defense is largely to blame.

Sacramento opened the campaign with a 5-10 ATS record while trotting out the league's worst defense. The Kings produced borderline top-10 defensive numbers to spark an 8-0 ATS run, only to regress back to league-worst defensive play during their current 1-11 ATS stretch.

That's a bad sign against the Trail Blazers and star guard Damian Lillard, who's averaging 30 points during his team's 13-5 ATS run, and he should get every opportunity to bury the Kings in this one.

Pick: Trail Blazers -4.5

Warriors @ Suns (-11, 221)

One of the NBA's biggest surprise contenders continues to roll through its schedule with little resistance. The Suns have covered during 14 of their last 18 games while posting the league's best net rating (+10.1), boasting a top-five offense and defense en route to sitting No. 2 in the West.

Phoenix blasted the Warriors by 21 points on Jan. 28 and shouldn't struggle to dispatch a Golden State team without Stephen Curry and Draymond Green. Double-digit favorites are 32-13-3 ATS this season, so trust the mismatch and lay the points here.

Pick: Suns -11

(Odds source: theScore Bet)

C Jackson Cowart is a betting writer for theScore. He's an award-winning journalist with stops at The Charlotte Observer, The San Diego Union-Tribune, The Times Herald-Record, and BetChicago. He's also a proud graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill, and his love of sweet tea is rivaled only by that of a juicy prop bet. Find him on Twitter @CJacksonCowart.

NBA Thursday betting preview: Fade shorthanded Raptors at Celtics
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