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The Daily Sweat: Nets and Knicks meet as both teams try to figure themselves out

The New York Knicks were coming off a fun season that marked their return to the playoffs. The Brooklyn Nets were the favorite to win it all this season.

New York basketball was supposed to be in a great place. Instead, the Nets would be in the play-in tournament if the season ended today. That's better than the Knicks, who need to rally to get any postseason games at all.

The Knicks are a mess but still 3.5-point favorites over the Nets at BetMGM for Wednesday night's game, which will be on ESPN.

The Knicks fell hard. Julius Randle hasn't been able to recapture the form he had last season. There have been issues figuring out the rotation. The defensive grit the Knicks had last season has disappeared and the offense has been bad. The Knicks are 25-33, in 12th place in the Eastern Conference.

The Knicks are probably done, but maybe the Nets can get it together. They just reshaped their team, sending James Harden and others to the Philadelphia 76ers for a package headlined by Ben Simmons. Simmons is an entirely different player and the Nets are clearly hoping the fit is better. It's hard to believe that the Harden-Kevin Durant-Kyrie Irving trio will never make it further than the second round of the playoffs.

The Nets are waiting for Durant to get healthy and Simmons to be ready to play. Irving's situation has been weird, with him playing just road games (and not Wednesday night's game at the Knicks). If the Nets are entirely healthy by the playoffs, figure out chemistry and the Irving situation isn't too big of a distraction then Brooklyn could be dangerous by the postseason. Then again, they might be fighting to make it out of the play-in games if they don't string some wins together soon.

This has been a disappointing season for New York basketball. Heck, even Syracuse is just 13-12 and St. John's is 13-11. Iona (21-5, from Rochelle, N.Y.) is the shining light for the state's hoops teams right now. Nets-Knicks won't be the exciting game it could have been. Maybe one of the teams will start to find itself before it's too late.

It has been a frustrating season for Julius Randle and the New York Knicks. (Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images)
It has been a frustrating season for Julius Randle and the New York Knicks. (Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images)

Here's a first look at the sports betting slate for Wednesday:

NBA has 11 games on Wednesday

It's a busy Wednesday in the NBA as it gets in games before the all-star break hits. The best matchup is the Denver Nuggets at the Golden State Warriors. Denver is a 5.5-point underdog but has Nikola Jokic, who is having a remarkable follow-up to his MVP season.

The second game of the ESPN doubleheader is the Utah Jazz at the Los Angeles Lakers. The Jazz are 5.5-point favorites and while it might be enticing to take the Lakers getting that many points at home, they're not a fun team to back this season.

What about college basketball?

There are seven top-25 teams in action. The best game is No. 7 Baylor at No. 11 Texas Tech. Texas Tech is a 1.5-point favorite. Baylor has won two in a row after losing two of three, but it's a tough road game for the Bears.

Another intriguing game is No. 12 Illinois at Rutgers. Illinois has looked very good lately, but Rutgers is really tough at home. Rutgers has already beat Purdue, Iowa, Michigan State and Ohio State this season at home. Rutgers is a 3.5-point underdog and they're the right side.

Two great NHL games

The best game of the day might be in the NHL. The Florida Panthers, who are 32-10-5, travel to meet the 32-11-3 Carolina Hurricanes. The Hurricanes are -120 favorites. Then the Colorado Avalanche meet the Vegas Golden Knights, with Colorado as a -125 favorite. Both matchups would make for fantastic conference finals, and both games are on TNT.

What's the best bet?

I'll take Texas Tech as a small home favorite. Baylor hasn't been quite as good the past few weeks, and Texas Tech is a really good team, especially on defense. It's a great matchup of two Big 12 teams that could make a Final Four.