On Wednesday night we get a New York City basketball showdown, though it might not be the event that ESPN was looking forward to when it put New York Knicks-Brooklyn Nets on the schedule.
The Knicks have been fine. They're 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 dealt with a season's worth of off-court distractions with Kyrie Irving, who is still suspended. The Nets were among the shortest odds to win the NBA Finals before the season started. Now they're just trying to get back to .500.
Despite the differences in record, the Nets are 2.5-point favorites over the Knicks at BetMGM.
Part of that point spread is lingering preconceived notions about both teams. The other reason is 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 suspension 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 scoring 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 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 does look improved with free-agent signee Jalen Brunson added to the mix.
Maybe you believe the Nets are coming around, and laying 2.5 points on Wednesday night isn't too bad. I'll be on the Knicks, and make the Nets prove they're actually turning a corner.
Here's a first look at the sports betting slate for Wednesday:
Another big NBA slate
The NBA, which had a rare 15-game schedule on Monday, comes back after taking election day off for 13 games on Wednesday.
There's another cross-town game that isn't as exciting as previously hoped. The Los Angeles Clippers face the Los Angeles Lakers. The Clippers are disappointing at 6-5. The Lakers are simply 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.
The best game is the Utah Jazz at the Atlanta Hawks. The Hawks' 7-3 start isn't a big shock but the Jazz being 9-3 is. They're 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 favored by 2.5 against Bowling Green. That's plenty of midweek MACtion.
College basketball starting slow
There are 11 college basketball games listed at BetMGM as of Wednesday morning, and none of them are particularly interesting. There really isn't a truly 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 do if you're into mid-major hoops.
Hurricanes-Panthers highlights NHL
There are four NHL games on Thursday, and the top one 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's 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 a 1.5-point favorite at the Minnesota Timberwolves. Minnesota has failed to cover four of their last five games and the Timberwolves have been pretty disappointing after adding Rudy Gobert in a huge trade this offseason. The Suns are good, again, and I trust them as a small favorite on Wednesday.