At the All-Star Break: “It all goes through Denver”

February 22, 2023

For SuperBook Sports Insider Josh Dover, Nikola Jokic and his Denver Nuggets stand in everyone’s way

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It might sound strange to say that the road to an NBA title this season goes through a town that’s never won one, but that’s how SuperBook Sports insider Josh Dover sees it.

Winning the West: Check.

Winning the whole enchilada: Check.

Winning a third-straight NBA MVP: Check, check…and checkmate.

“Denver versus Boston seems so chalk, and I have all the sports hate in my heart for Boston, so I can’t do that,” says Dover. “I am going Denver versus Milwaukee, the battle of European MVPs.”

It’s not as if Denver is a “trendy” pick. Despite having the best record in the West at the All-Star break, the Nuggets own the fourth best odds to win it all at 15/2.  History clearly plays into bettors’ hesitation to double-down on Denver, a franchise that’s never even been to the NBA Finals, much less won it. But this year, according to Dover, is different. There are fundamental reasons why one should bet the Nuggets confidently.

“Nikola Jokic is playing the best team basketball this generation of players has ever seen,” says Dover. “Jamal Murray is fully back and they have the luxury of keeping his legs healthy. Aaron Gordon is no longer ‘Orlando Aaron,’ who isolates and tries to do too much, he knows his role and plays it well.”

Aside from history, health has been arguably the biggest obstacle standing in the way of a Nuggets title run. In 1985, it was Hall of Famer breaking his thumb in the Western Conference Finals; following the Nuggets improbable run to the Western Conference Finals in the 2020 Bubble, star guard Jamal was sidelines with a torn ACL and sharpshooter Michael Porter Jr. battled a bad back for an entire season. This season, Porter appears to be consistently strong while the Nuggets have done everything possible to allow Murray to fully recover at a zero-rush pace – and they’re still winning at the West’s highest clip.

And don’t forget, Denver still has the “Serbian Basketball God,” a shoo-in for a three-peat MVP, says Dover. With the Joker’s odds at an incredible -350 to win yet another MVP, Dover is not the only one.

“Jokic plays the center position in a way we have never seen,” says Dover. “He is the first center in NBA history to get to 500 points and 500 assists before the All-Star game. He is the MV3.”

Are you buying what Dover is selling? If so, you might want to hop on the road – the one that leads to a Western Conference Championship, an NBA title and an MVP (X3) … and maybe even the cash out window.

And this season, that road that goes straight through Denver.

Tonight’s Trio

Three bets worth considering on a Wednesday night

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Winnipeg Jets at New York Islanders
UBS Arena – Elmont, NY
7:00 PM ET
SuperBook Line: New York -120

It’s a tense time in the NHL, as playoff hopes will be realized and dreams will be dashed over the next seven weeks of hockey. Both the Islanders and Jets are in heated battles.

New York has used a recent 6-2-2 stretch to salvage its season after going winless from Jan. 16 to Jan. 25. It was a painful 0-4-2 slide that saw the Isles fall hard in the standings. But the Islanders earned a huge 4-2 road win over the Penguins on Monday night, and now lead Pittsburgh by two points and the Panthers by one, as they cling to one of the final wild card spots in the Eastern Conference. They’re 17-10-3 at home this season, including 4-1-1 over their last six games at UBS Arena.

Meanwhile, Winnipeg is finishing a long road trip out East, in which it suffered a 3-1 loss to Columbus and 4-2 defeat to the Devils before rebounding with a 4-1 win over the Rangers. But the Jets have been gone from home for a week, which could leave them dragging in a game that has significant impact. They’re ahead of the surging Avalanche by only four points in the Central Division and are just 3-5 over their last eight road contests.

The game means a lot to both teams, but one is coming off a monster win against the Penguins, while the other is satisfied it got one road win and is looking forward to the return trip to Canada. Take the Islanders at home with confidence, as the trends point toward New York fans leaving the game happy on Wednesday night.

Norm LaChatlier’s pick: New York M/L (-120)


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Calgary Flames at Arizona Coyotes
Mullett Arena – Tempe, AZ
9:30 PM ET
SuperBook Line: Calgary -210

Don’t look now, but it appears like Arizona knows how to play at home. The Coyotes have won four straight games at Mullett Arena, the 5,000-seat, intimate arena that is also home to the Arizona State Sun Devils.

Arizona took down Columbus, Tampa Bay, Minnesota and St. Louis during that stretch, so the Coyotes have beaten two playoff teams and two headed for a rebuild. On the season, their home record is a respectable 13-8-2, with a pitiful 7-20-7 away record squashing any playoff dreams.

But it doesn’t mean there isn’t value on the Coyotes in the desert. A +180 line is significant juice for a team that should get more respect at home.

And it’s not like Calgary has been particularly good of late. The Flames have gone just 3-4-2 over their last nine games and currently on the outside looking in for a spot in the Western Conference playoffs. They’ve skated off the ice losers in three of their last four road games, including against Ottawa and Detroit, teams that would need very strong finishes to potentially sniff the postseason.

The Flames are 11-9-9 on the road this season, meaning they’ve been defeated in 18 of 29 games away from home. It doesn’t matter if the Coyotes do it in regulation, overtime or a shootout, they’ll get it done at some point. Get paid on an underdog that shouldn’t be this big of one.

Norm LaChatlier’s pick: Arizona M/L (+180)


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The Honda Classic
PGA National Members Club – Palm Beach Gardens, FL
Feb. 23-26, 2023
SuperBook Line: Sungjae Im +1000

SuperBook has the two favorites in the field at the Honda Classic matched up against each other. Sungjae Im leads the pack at 10/1 to win the whole thing, while Shane Lowry along with Billy Horschel sit at 20/1.

But a peek at what happened at the PGA National Resort in Palm Beach Gardens during the 2022 tournament is revealing. Lowry finished -9, shooting 70, 67, 67, 67 and taking second place outright in the tournament. He played extremely consistent golf, barely missing out on winning it, as Sepp Straka took it at -10.

Meanwhile, Im didn’t even play the weekend, getting cut after firing a round of 74 on Thursday and 70 on Friday. His +4 wasn’t good enough, with the cut checking in at +2. He technically finished in a tie for 88th place.

Clearly, Lowry is very comfortable on the course, while Im will need to prove he can rebound after a disappointing showing a year ago. While Im has played more PGA Tour events of late, Lowry was the better player last weekend. He finished tied for 14th at the Genesis Invitational, carding a three-under 68 on Sunday to conclude the event at -7.

Im finished at +1, tied for 56th. He had a tough weekend, shooting at 75 on Saturday followed by a 74 on Sunday.

The momentum is with Lowry, both from last year and last week. Take him and the value, because it’s pretty darn good for what could ultimately be a coin flip in this tournament matchup.

Bill Liteley’s pick: Shane Lowry to beat Sungjae Im (+160)

Perfect Parlay

Today’s best packaged deal

If you’re looking for an entire night’s worth of entertainment, while also looking for as close to a ’sure thing’ parlay as possible, there’s an entire slate of big home favorites in college hoops on the docket. If any one of the legs in this parlay doesn’t hit, it’s a big upset. At +425, it’s a nice payout without a great deal of risk.

UConn M/L -330
Georgia Southern M/L -300
Furman M/L -1000
Central Florida M/L -410
Cincinnati M/L -360
East Tennessee State M/L -300
UNC Greensboro M/L -600
Auburn M/L -850

Hoops Harlen’s Eight-Leg Parlay = +428

Around the Nation

Things we’ve learned this week

Bad Basketball – While the NFL continues to try to find a winning formula with the Pro Bowl, the NBA needs to follow suit. The Association’s All-Star Game is just as flawed, as evidenced by last weekend’s unwatchable 184-175 charade. Michael Malone, who coached Team LeBron in the game, called it “the worst basketball game ever played.” And it’s hard to argue. What’s the fix? That’s tough. Perhaps today’s NBA players need to take a cue from the all-time greats, finding their competitive spirit even in an exhibition game.

The XFL Gets It – Time will tell if spring football will succeed in America. The XFL, back in another iteration, is the latest league to give it a go. They kicked off last weekend, producing four relatively entertaining games. That said, the results on the field weren’t the center of attention. Rather, it was the league’s rules tweaks that garnered the most conversation. From a three-point conversion to a revised kickoff, the XFL was full of ideas that the NFL should adopt ASAP.