Knicks-Warriors Was A Good Bet On MSG+

MSG Networks launched an alternative betting-focused version of its game telecast
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Knicks fans watching Thursday night’s game on MSG Network were treated to perhaps their most dramatic victory since the season-opening, double-overtime win over the Boston Celtics way back in October.

But those watching the MSG+ channel — while also ultimately enjoying the Knicks’ 116-114 road nail-biter over the mighty Golden State Warriors — had a far different type of viewing experience.

This was the debut of a sports betting-focused simulcast of the game, sponsored by DraftKings as part of “Bet-a-palooza Week.” Another will air at 5 p.m. Saturday when the Knicks visit Portland.

On Thursday night, MSG+ first aired the Devils’ hockey game in St. Louis that was scheduled to conclude at 10:30 p.m., a half-hour after the Knicks game in San Francisco started on MSG. But a wild-and-wooly hockey game, with four goals scored in the last four minutes of the Devils’ 7-4 win, meant that the simulcast of the Knicks game didn’t kick off until three minutes into the second quarter, with the Knicks holding a 38-36 lead.

Revolving door hosts

The simulcast show did — and did not — echo the fabled “Manningcast” version on ESPN2 of Monday Night Football games.

It did, in that viewers could catch all the game action even though the chatter wasn’t in a traditional broadcasting mode. And it did not, in that Peyton and Eli Manning dominate those entire NFL episodes, with a special guest in each quarter.

On this MSG+ launch, hosts came and went all the time — made more confusing by the fact that none of them are household names in many households.

Also, as often happened with the Manningcast, the game itself proved dramatic. An alternative way to watch a game — especially one focused on betting — is more valuable when the game is lopsided. Still, for those who looking for a peek into the mindset of an in-game sports bettor, the show proved illuminating.

Always looking for that next bet

Once the Knicks (now 25-31) took a 45-39 lead, host Alex Monaco said he would be “that guy” and bet the Warriors to claim the halftime lead over the final seven minutes — even though he is a Knicks fan.

“I’m chasing, after that first quarter hell,” said Monaco, referring to an early betting loss and urge to even the score as quickly as possible.

A hot start by Knicks star Julius Randle led one panelist to note that those who took Randle to get a triple double (he didn’t) at +1400 before the game were very much in contention.

After the Warriors (now 41-15) tied the game at 50, the expert advised against hedging an earlier bet: “You made your decision, so live with it.”

As for the Super Bowl, which was a topic during timeouts, the expert commented that the game typically starts off low-scoring, so “over” bettors would be wise to wait several minutes and then make a live bet on a slightly lower point total. The blockbuster Nets-76ers trade involving James Harden and Ben Simmons also was brought up during the break.

Another host, Katie Mox, chimed in that she had the “under 112 first-half points” pre-game bet with the score at 55-52 with about two minutes left.

It was entertaining — in the manner of walking past a casino craps table — to watch someone else “sweat” their wager. The score was 57-53 with a minute left before Steph Curry launched an open 3-pointer to end Mox’s faint hopes.

Halftime brought Mox two more guests — Jeff Johnson and Kazeem Famuyide — to review their results and talk about second-half action.

Monaco seized on what he saw as an opportunity when the Knicks opened the second half with a 5-0 run, as he then took the Warriors at +126 to win the quarter anyway. The Knicks, alas for him, scored six more points to start the period and held on for an 88-82 lead after three quarters.

Mox, though, had the Warriors at -9 points before the game, and she wasn’t ready to give up on that bet — not even after the Knicks extended their lead to 97-84 with under 10 minutes remaining.

Know your team — and your opponent

A variety of betting options on the Knicks to win were proffered on the telecast during the game, but none of the hosts was eager to “buy in” based on the Knicks’ fourth-quarter struggles and the Warriors’ tendency to close out and win games.

Sure enough, an 18-5 run got the Warriors within two points with 4:34 to play. And even after a goaltending violation put the Knicks up 114-110 with 21.4 seconds left, the team missed two of four free throws in subsequent possessions to send the ball to the Warriors, down just two points with 6.2 seconds left.

But the Warriors’ Klay Thompson missed a potential game-tying shot in the paint, and the Knicks held on.

As far as the telecast, three quarters of betting chatter gave way almost completely in the final quarter to a group of hosts just “talking basketball” — mostly as Knicks fans — instead of focusing on what the latest in-game odds were.

The result was entertaining, but DraftKings presumably doesn’t host this show to have basketball fans just talk basketball. So it’s clear that this experiment is a work in progress.

Photo: John Hefti/USA TODAY

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