Knicks and Warriors are the same in one gambling sense

LAS VEGAS — You can make the regular season of any sport a bit more special by betting on a team’s win total. Every game becomes a small wager — even a “meaningless” matchup in January.

While tying up money for six months seems like an unattractive proposition, win totals can be valuable investments, and as VSiN’s Brent Musburger likes to say, “Cashing tickets is what it’s all about.”

So here are four teams in which to invest. (These win total numbers are from the Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas, so be ready to jump in there when New Jersey books post them.)

Knicks (Under 29.5)

When Kristaps Porzingis went down with a torn ACL, the Knicks were 23-32, and looked well on their way to surpassing the win total of 29.5. However, the injury sent the Knicks into a tailspin. They finished the season 6-21 to fall under the total by a hook (half a game). Now, Porzingis continues to recover from the knee injury that could sideline him well into the next calendar year, and the Knicks are not entirely better than the team that finished the year. The backcourt is weak, and the only real positive addition is Kentucky forward Kevin Knox, who will be a very good pro, but is still a rookie. On top of that, the Knicks will have to face Boston, Toronto and Philadelphia a total of 12 times, with 30 other contests against the tough Western Conference. Should Porzingis be out of the lineup until sometime in February, this Knicks team will be very uninspiring next season. Even when The Unicorn returns, how long will it take for him to get in the flow of playing at NBA speed? Things would look up if Kevin Durant were to join the team in a couple of years, but for now it’s the same ol’ Knickerbockers.

Warriors (Under 62.5)

There is no question the Warriors are capable of winning 63 games or even more. However, coming off of a 58-win season, it seems they have come to the realization that winning the most games in the conference is not an objective worth achieving. Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston are a year older and are a necessity for a postseason run. Yes, the team did get the All-Star addition of DeMarcus Cousins, but he will not return to full strength until possibly early 2019. When Cousins finally returns, there will be growing pains as he tries to find out how he fits into the rotation. Then, there is the conference around Golden State. The Rockets are clearly weaker. The Lakers added LeBron James, but the team around him is not built to beat this version of the Warriors. Will Golden State really fret a best-of-seven series as a lower seed against either of these teams? Expect another season of disinterest from Steve Kerr’s group as it readies itself for a fourth title in five years.

Grizzlies (Over 34.5)

It is rare that a team gets better, but its win total gets lower. This is the case for the Grizzlies. A year ago, the Westgate SuperBook posted the Grizzlies’ win total at 37.5, and the team stayed well below it with just 22 victories. However, look at what Memphis went through in the 2017-18 season. Mike Conley played in just 12 games and David Fizdale was fired early in the year. Keep in mind this team did start 7-4 before plummeting to a 15-56 finish. Now, Conley is expected to be ready for training camp, they have a head coach who seems to have the approval of all team members and they drafted Jaren Jackson Jr. out of Michigan State No. 4 overall. The Western Conference will be much tougher this season, especially with LeBron donning purple and gold. However, this team is improved with Conley’s return and the addition of Jackson. On top of that, bettors are getting three fewer wins on the total this time around. Bet the Over with a fringe playoff team in Memphis.

Celtics (Over 57.5)

This has the makings of a magical season for the Celtics. There are just two other teams in the Eastern Conference with win totals above 47.5, LeBron James is no more and the team will be fully healthy. Yes, Boston will have to play Philadelphia and Toronto a total of eight times, but it will also draw 44 games against other Eastern Conference opponents. With Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward at full health, and the emergence of youngsters such as Jayson Tatum, the Celtics have the makings of a dominant team in a very weak conference. Asking a team that is getting two transcendent talents to win just three more games from the season prior seems like a task that is more than reasonable. Boston could likely win 60 games this coming year.

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