Kyrie Irving’s Return Has Barely Moved Nets’ Title Odds, But They’re Still Favored

A look at some interesting trends in futures bets involving New York's pro teams
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So, in the space of two weeks, the Brooklyn Nets welcomed the return of Kevin Durant, James Harden and, for the first time all season, Kyrie Irving. Right away, they meshed all that future-Hall-of-Fame talent into a comeback 129-121 victory in Indianapolis Wednesday night to snap a three-game losing streak, and the sports books reacted….

Um, not at all?

Apparently, the oddsmakers never seemed too concerned about all the COVID disarray, in part because many other NBA teams were having the same issues and, in part, because, well, the Nets are just so freakin’ talented.

Even the team’s reversal of policy by allowing Irving, their star guard, to practice and play in road games despite being unvaccinated didn’t move the lines much.

As of Thursday morning, the odds on the Nets to win the NBA championship had barely budged from the last time we checked in on them, a couple of days before Christmas. For example, both DraftKings (+245) and FanDuel (+260) haven’t changed their line at all and PointsBet (+270) barely moved off its previous line of +275. (The Golden State Warriors are the closest team to the Nets in championship odds, at +550 at DraftKings.)

It’d be easy to say you should have jumped on the Nets when they were down a couple of weeks ago, but it really wouldn’t have made much difference.

Here are some other interesting futures and prop bets involving New York teams:

Bi-coastal MVP race

Bettors convinced Durant will catch up to and pass Steph Curry and win his second MVP award are best off at DraftKings, which is offering Durant at +240 (with Curry at +120). FanDuel has Durant at +210, while PointsBet is a little more bullish on his chances at +185.

Meanwhile, Harden’s odds of winning his second MVP are long: +8000 at DraftKings, with FanDuel and PointsBet at +7000.

It’s still early. The All-Star game is still six weeks away. With COVID still creating havoc, it might make sense to find a live longshot. Is Harden, at 32, that guy? His numbers are all down considerably from his career norms, including field-goal percentage (41.5% vs. 44.3% career) and three-point percentage (32.9% compared to 36.2%), but the season has a long way to go.

Bills coming on

A savvy bettor could have made a nice investment a few weeks ago, when people were beginning to wonder if the Buffalo Bills would even make the playoffs. Back on Dec. 16, before their game with the relatively awful Carolina Panthers, the Bills’ odds to win the Super Bowl were +1400 at some books.

And now, after impressive wins over Carolina, New England and Atlanta? Unlike in the case of the Nets, the story has changed quite a bit. The Bills’ championship odds have been cut nearly in half, with DraftKings offering them as the third choice at +750. FanDuel pegs them as co-third choices with the Tampa Bay Bucs at the same price, and PointsBet offers them as their third choice at +800.

For a Bills fan (or just believer), the price still might be right. Buffalo just has to beat the 4-12 Jets Sunday to win its second consecutive AFC East title and, depending what happens with other games, the Bills could finish as high as the No. 2 seed in the AFC playoffs.

Rangers also making a move

Some numbers say they’re overachieving, but the New York Rangers are off to an impressive start. Despite having a losing record against playoff teams and a far-from-impressive goal differential of +16, the Rangers moved into a tie for first place in the Metropolitan Division with a 4-1 win over the favored Edmonton Oilers this week.

The Rangers have won three straight and outscored their opponents by a score of 12-4 in those games heading into Thursday’s game in Las Vegas, where they’re +130 (and -190 if spotted a goal-and-a-half).

How much have the bookmakers reacted to this mid-season move?

To bet on the Rangers to make the playoffs, you’ll have to lay -1000 at DraftKings, but it shows its skepticism overall by making the Rangers’ chances of winning the Stanley Cup +2500. It’s worth noting for Rangers fans, however, that teams like the St. Louis Blues have faced longer odds in recent years and won.

Photo: Trevor Ruszkowski/USA TODAY

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