Kornegay’s Korner: Settle In
April 21, 2023
Got any plans from tonight until, oh, let’s say, June?
Of course you don’t – unless the “plan” is to find a nice spot on your couch every night until the NBA Finals have been won and the Stanley Cup has been hoisted. Settle in sports fans; this is the most action packed 60 days in sports.
SuperBook Sports Chief Oddsmaker Jay Kornegay and his crew are about to hunker down, keeping tabs on every series in both sports (plus a little baseball sprinkled in on the daily) until champions are crowned. As a general consensus, the SuperBook Sports team and its army of bettors sees the NBA as a bit more wide open, while the Stanley Cup is the Bruins’ to lose.
“I hate to say this, but the Lakers are a team to keep an eye on,” Kornegay says about a gut reaction to the NBA’s first week of postseason action.
In the NHL, the Western Conference more closely resembles the NBA’s “up for grabs” feel.
“The West is wide open,” says Kornegay. “The top teams all lost their opening games which is just the beginning. The Knights have been winning a lot of close games and seem to be flirting with disaster almost every game. The Avs are still fighting some injuries and have a huge target on their back. The other top team, the Oilers, have a history of disappointing in the playoffs. It’s wide open in the West but a couple of sleeper picks would be the Kings and the Jets.
“In the east, it will be tough to knock out the Bruins. I would never count out the Lightning. They have the horses to make a run. A surprise team could be those Rangers.”
Just as the two sports are different, so are their betting fans. Kornegay believes there are distinct differences between the two groups.
“We see more balanced action from hockey bettors. The hockey fans are more likely to bet on visiting teams compared the NBA fans and their road teams,” he explains. “This is understandable, as hockey road teams have experienced a little more success than NBA road teams. The NHL road teams won 6-of-8 out of the gate.”
This supports Kornegay’s No. 1 piece of advice for novice hockey bettors.
“Don’t overvalue the home ice,” Kornegay warns. “There are many theories out there, but one resonates with me: The road teams are very focused on the road and it’s all about hockey. They’re staying in the same hotel together, eating together and it’s all about the next game. At home, players have plenty of distractions. The one exception is a Game 7. Once it reaches that point, the home teams have the advantage and history proves that.”
In the NBA, homecourt factors in a bit more heavily. Kornegay says keeping an eye on the active list before placing a bet is the most important thing one can do, as injuries to stars or key role players can drastically impact a line or point total.
Whether you’re watching hoops or hockey – or both all at once – study up and get those bets in. That summer tan can wait until June.
Friday Night Trio
Three bets worth considering when the weekend kicks off
Boston Celtics at Atlanta Hawks
State Farm Arena – Atlanta, GA
7:00 PM ET
SuperBook Line: Boston -5.0
The Atlanta Hawks are hopeless. As maybe the most-mediocre team in NBA history, the Hawks only goal in their first-round series that seems even somewhat realistic is to just not get swept. But even that isn’t likely to happen.
This series, from the very beginning, has had sweep written all over it. Game 1 resulted in a 112-99 win for Boston. However, the score doesn’t do justice to how much of a blowout it was. The Celtics were up 30 points at halftime and ended up resting their starters for the majority of the fourth quarter.
In Atlanta’s defense, they showed some life in Game 2, as they came within 10 going into the fourth quarter. Still, though, they weren’t able to overcome the sheer firepower of Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart.
Tatum had 29 and the three stars had a total of 61 combined points. Derrick White also tacked on 26 of his own in a stellar 11-of-16 shooting performance. Dejounte Murray and Trae Young did everything they could. Murray had 29 and Young had 24, but it wasn’t enough.
The Boston Celtics are championship or bust. At this point, the title-winning side of that mantra looks pretty conceivable. While home-court advantage could do Atlanta some favors, there is good reason behind them being 5.0-point underdogs.
Sometimes, especially in the NBA, the mismatch between two teams is so large that home-court doesn’t even matter. That is the case for this series.
Hawks fans down in Georgia will pack State Farm Arena, but they all know that their team is done for. Mediocrity leads to sweeps.
Jason Schlefsky’s pick: Boston -5.0 (-110)
Cleveland Cavaliers at New York Knicks
Madison Square Garden – New York, NY
8:30 PM ET
SuperBook Line: New York -2.0 (-110)
The Cavaliers proved something on Tuesday night. Game 1 was a fluke. After getting beat 101-97 in the series opener of this thrilling Eastern Conference matchup, Cleveland made a statement in Game 2 with a 107-90 win.
Darius Garland led the way with 32 points. He was fantastic, but he was aided by teammates Donovan Mitchell and Evan Mobley. Mobley had 13 points and 13 rebounds, while Mithcell had 17 points along with 13 assists.
After a two-day break, the series heads to New York for Game 3. The Knicks are favored to win, but not by much. A 2.0-point spread is the current line.
When it comes to NBA home-court advantage, it doesn’t get better than New York. Madison Square Garden is famous in the sports world for being one of the most-difficult venues to play. The fans can be raucous.
Whatever the outcome, this game will be electric. In recent years, Julius Randle has been the star for the Knicks. While he still averaged 25 points per game and has had a decent series thus far, Jalen Brunson has been the Knicks saving grace.
Brunson signed with the Knicks on a four-year, $104 million contract. It sure has paid off, though. Brunson averaged 24 points per game in the regular season and has already had multiple 20-point games in his first playoff series as a Knick.
Brunson is the key to the Knicks advancing to the second round. If he and Randle can combine for 50 or more points in a game, they are tough to beat.
That said, the Cavaliers have some weapons on their side, as well. They acquired Mitchell in the offseason, an acquisition that many believe is the reason they were able to attain the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference. Mitchell paired with Garland, Mobley and Jarrett Allen is lethal.
However, the New York Knicks are itching to get back to the second round of the playoffs, something they haven’t done in 10 years. Is this the year?
In this game, the first at Madison Square Garden in the series, expect the crowd to be wild. The game to be close, but the Knicks to come out on top.
Jason Schlefsky’s pick: New York M/L (-130)
Boston Bruins at Florida Panthers
FLA Live Arena – Sunrise, FL
7:30 PM ET
SuperBook Line: Boston -154
Almost everyone expected the Bruins to sweep the Panthers. After a 3-1 win in Game 1, it solidified that assumption in the minds of the people watching at home. But in Game 2, the Panthers shocked the world of hockey with a 6-3 win that featured four third-period goals.
While it is still unlikely that they would go on to beat the Bruins in a best-of-seven series, Florida did what they had to do and stole home ice. It is sure to be short lived, though.
The Bruins are favored despite being on the road. They now have a chip on their shoulder after Game 2.
Boston was far and away the best team in all of hockey this year with a 65-12-5 mark. Their 65 wins broke the record for most wins in a single NHL season. Teams like that often get a reality check in the playoffs.
They quite obviously rolled into Game 2, expecting an easy win. They forgot that it was playoff hockey, where anything can happen. Teams play faster, harder and with a few extra shots and some lucky bounces, anybody can beat anybody.
That is what happened in Game 2. It won’t happen in Game 3. The Bruins may not be able to get the sweep many fans were expecting, but their road to a gentleman’s sweep starts on Friday night.
The NHL’s best team isn’t going down 2-1 in a first-round playoff series. Take the Bruins to get it done.
Norm LaChatlier’s pick: Boston M/L (-154)
A Friday night combination of winners
- Minnesota Timberwolves M/L (+115)
- New York Islanders M/L (-119)
It’s desperation time for these two teams. Both find themselves down 2-0 in their first-round series, heading home with their seasons on the line. The Timberwolves found their rhythm in Game 2; they’ll avoid the sweep and get back in the series tonight. The Islanders lost an overtime heartbreaker last time out; they’ll get their revenge in Game 3.
Schlefsky/LaChatlier’s Two-Leg Parlay = +296