Sports bettors may want to click away from ESPN’s telecast Wednesday night of the 76ers hosting the Brooklyn Nets in a battle for Eastern Conference supremacy.
It’s not because the game won’t be worth watching at 7 p.m., though questions surrounding the availability of the Nets’ star trio detract from the hype it would normally be worth for NBA fans.
The reason for a gambler to consider turning off ESPN is to switch to either ESPN2 or ESPN+, as those will be airing what the network labels its first “Daily Wager Special alternate presentation.”
Commentators will be freed from any of the normal shackles that minimize gambling talk on the regular telecast and will openly discuss point spreads, live betting wagers, and the like. It will be “ESPN’s first alternate presentation fully driven by sports betting content,” according to a network press release.
ESPN2 and ESPN+ will carry a Daily Wager Special discussion of odds and bets both during a pregame show 15 minutes before tipoff and at halftime. During the game, sports betting analysts Doug Kezirian, Joe Fortenbaugh, and Tyler Fulghum will be updating viewers on gambling options, while joined by analyst Kendrick Perkins.
Probably just a sign of things to come
While the first such presentation by ESPN, it will be far from the last. With broad legalization of sports betting in state after state across the country, broadcast networks and other media are far more willing to bring gambling discussion out of the traditional closet.
Viewers who don’t want to be bothered with such talk will still have the regular ESPN telecast available to them with commentary by Mike Breen and Doris Burke. Plenty of sports bettors, however, might prefer the kind of information and insights they already get from watching Daily Wager, ESPN2’s regular sports betting news and information program.
ESPN has made deals with DraftKings and Caesars/William Hill for content promotion, and if things remain the same Wednesday evening as in the morning, those tuning in before the game can be expected to hear analysis of DK’s 7-point spread favoring the 76ers.
It’s an unusual spread, at first glance, in that both teams enter atop the East at 37-17, with the Nets a heavier favorite to win the conference: -106 vs. +450.
But the Nets’ James Harden is out with a hamstring injury and questions also surround whether Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving will play. The latter has missed time with personal issues, and Durant recently returned from a hamstring injury himself.
Also, the Nets could be tired due to playing Tuesday in Minneapolis, where they easily beat the Timberwolves, 127-97. Durant starred with 31 points in 27 minutes, but he might not play as much vs. Philadelphia if he needs some rest.
With no such concerns about Sixers stars Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, the home team is being listed as a moneyline favorite of -286 by DraftKings.
The over/under on points is 228. Regardless of who’s winning or by how much, you might expect to hear a lot of uncharacteristic chatter about that all the way to the buzzer on ESPN2 and ESPN+.