The Empire Slate: Talking Nets’ Playoff Odds and Mets, Yankees Openers

Nets reward sportsbooks' faith in them while Mets and Yankees could offer value
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“The Empire Slate” is a weekly look at betting angles and trends involving New York sports.

Here at The Empire Slate, we’ll admit we’ve had a bit of an obsession with the sportsbooks’ stubborn refusal to discount the Brooklyn Nets’ postseason odds much this season despite their seemingly shaky playoff positioning.

Well, guess what? Everything has a chance to come up roses for the Nets and, potentially, to reward the ‘books that kept the faith in their ability to flip the switch and win at crunch time.

The Nets shook off a sluggish first half to beat the Knicks by 12 Wednesday night, creating a relatively convenient path to go deep in the playoffs.

Schedule sets up nicely

The Nets are trailing the Cleveland Cavaliers by just one game for the No. 7 seed heading into the teams’ critical showdown Friday night at Barclays Center. Beat the Cavs, who have lost seven of their last nine games, and the Nets have both momentum and a favorable position.

Brooklyn finishes the season Sunday vs. the awful Pacers, while the Cavs play the reigning champs, the Bucks, who figure still to be fighting for the No. 2 seed. The Atlanta Hawks, who are tied with the Nets right now, have to play the No. 1 seed Miami Heat Friday night in south Florida.

But, wait, it gets even better if you’re a Nets fan. Presuming the odds hold and the Nets do, in fact, capture the No. 7 seed, they would face the Cavs or Hawks in a play-in game. They’ve won two of the three meetings with each of those opponents. Win that game and they’d advance to the next round of the playoffs vs. the No. 2 seed, currently the Celtics.

Yeah, they’ve gone 1-3 against Boston this year, but Kyrie Irving played in just one of those four games and Kevin Durant missed two of them. The two stars are healthy now, and it’s not out of the question Ben Simmons could play at some point during the playoffs. It just goes to show, once again, that the bookmakers often know what they’re doing.

The title odds

If you’re reading this and thinking it might be a good time to hop on the Nets’ bandwagon, your best bet among New York mobile operators is BetMGM, which is offering their title odds at +700. WynnBet is the most bullish on the Nets’ chances of the eight New York mobile books, offering their title odds at a less profitable +550.

NBA Network studio analyst Greg Anthony noted this week that the Heat might have a hard time matching up with the Nets in a playoff series due to Brooklyn’s superior size. Specifically, he wondered how Miami would be able to guard Durant. He has averaged 26.3 points and 6 rebounds, both below his season averages, in the three games he has played against the Heat this season.

PointsBet offers the best New York-based price on the Nets to win the Eastern Conference at +350.

No voting on awards in NY

Earlier this week, we ran our betting preview for Yankees and Mets futures. A savvy observer might wonder why we didn’t include a discussion of MVP, Cy Young or Rookie of the Year odds.

The answer is it’s because New York regulations bar legal sportsbooks from taking any action on events that are voted upon. That makes some sense, as such awards raise some ethical questions given that only 30 voters from the Baseball Writers Association of America sway millions of dollars in the betting markets and contract incentives for players.

Handicapping Mets at Nationals

The best Mets’ moneyline being offered for their season opener in Washington Thursday night is at DraftKings, where they are -115.

It’s worth considering, particularly since Washington pitcher Patrick Corbin has never fared well against the Mets (4.33 career ERA vs. NY) and he’s coming off the worst season of his career (9-16 with a 5.82 ERA). Corbin had a solid spring, with a sub-1.00 WHIP, but pitched just nine innings, meaning he figures to be on a very short leash.

Due to injuries to Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer, the Mets are starting Tyler Megill in the opener. The over/under line is set at 9 at most books. The Empire Slate has a slight attraction to the over here, since the temperature is expected to be in the mid-50s with rain clearing out in time for first pitch. Hitting conditions shouldn’t be too brutal.

Handicapping Red Sox at Yankees

The Yankees bumped their opener against Boston to Friday to avoid Thursday’s storm in the region. At the New York books, their early moneyline ranges from -165 at FanDuel to -169 at BetMGM. The run lines and over/unders weren’t posted as of Thursday morning.

When the run total is posted, keep in mind what we brought up about Corbin. While the pitching matchup of Nathan Eovaldi vs. Gerrit Cole is an excellent one (and a rematch of the 2021 AL wild card game won by the Sox), neither starting pitcher will be built up to throw more than, say, 90 pitches.

That could turn it into a battle of the bullpens, where the Yankees have a massive advantage. According to multiple reports, the Red Sox bullpen had a rough spring, with several key relievers showing disturbing drops in velocity.

Photo: Gregory Fisher/USA TODAY

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