We have a basketball showdown in New York City on Wednesday night, although it may not have been the event ESPN was expecting when it scheduled the New York Knicks-Brooklyn Nets.
The Knicks did well. It’s 5-5. Given how last season went, it’s not a terrible start. It’s the Nets that are the nightmare.
The 4-7 Nets have already fired coach Steve Nash and faced a season’s worth of distractions off the court with Kyrie Irving still shut out. The Nets were among the least likely to win the NBA Finals before the season started. Now they’re just trying to get back to .500.
Despite the record differences, the Nets are 2.5-point favorites over the Knicks at BetMGM.
Part of this spread of signs is lingering prejudices about the two groups. The other reason is that the Nets are 2-1 since Irving’s suspension. Before Irving’s suspension, the Nets were the worst defensive team in the NBA and hadn’t held an opponent under 100 points all season. Since Irving’s layoff they’ve held all three opponents under 100. Probably not a coincidence.
It’s also fair to point out that two of their four games with less than 100 points have come in their last three games. It’s a different team without Irving, obviously.
The Knicks have been up and down but have won two of their last three. They beat the Philadelphia 76ers and the Minnesota Timberwolves on the road. They’re still trying to get back to where they were two seasons ago when they made the playoffs, and this season’s team looks improved with free agent Jalen Brunson added to the mix.
You might think the Nets are getting close, and putting up 2.5 points on Wednesday night isn’t too bad. I’ll be on the Knicks and I’ll make the Nets prove they’re really turning heads.
Here’s a first look at the sports betting table for Wednesday:
Another big list in the NBA
The NBA, which had a rare 15-game schedule on Monday, returns after an election furlough for 13 games on Wednesday.
There’s another cross-town game that isn’t as exciting as previously hoped. The Los Angeles Clippers take on the Los Angeles Lakers. The Clippers are a disappointing 6-5. The Lakers are just plain bad at 2-8. The Clippers are 3.5-point favorites, and that doesn’t seem high enough given how poorly the Lakers have played all season.
Best game is Utah Jazz at Atlanta Hawks. The Hawks’ 7-3 start isn’t much of a shock, but the Jazz are 9-3. They are playing very well after completely changing the roster in the offseason. The Hawks are favored by 3.5.
Some MAC games on the gridiron
There are three MAC football games on Wednesday. Western Michigan is a 1-point favorite over Northern Illinois, Central Michigan is a 1.5-point favorite over Buffalo and Kent State is a 2.5 favorite over Bowling Green. That’s enough midweek MACtion.
College basketball is off to a slow start
There are 11 college basketball games listed on BetMGM as of Wednesday morning, and none of them are particularly interesting. There really isn’t a really interesting matchup scheduled until Friday.
Davidson (-4.5) at Wright State or South Dakota State at Boise State (-5.5) are the two best games on the schedule, which will apply if you’re in mid-roll.
Hurricanes-Panthers highlights NHL
There are four NHL games on Thursday and the highlight is the Carolina Hurricanes at the Florida Panthers. The Hurricanes are 8-3-1 and look like one of the top teams in the league. The Panthers, who were the best team in the NHL regular season last year, are 7-5-1. The Panthers are -120 favorites.
What’s the best bet?
Taking road favorites in any sport isn’t a good long-term strategy, but I’ll go with the Phoenix Suns as 1.5-point favorites over the Minnesota Timberwolves. Minnesota has failed to cover in four of its last five games, and the Timberwolves have been pretty disappointing since adding Rudy Gobert in a huge trade this offseason. The Suns are good again and I trust them as a slight favorite on Wednesday.