Mountain State bettors jumped on the NBA last week, making it the second-highest-wagered sport at DraftKings Sportsbook West Virginia, behind college basketball.
Combine the NBA with UFC 260 on Saturday and the NASCAR Food City Dirt Race on Sunday, and there’s a strong betting menu for West Virginia gamblers this side of March Madness.
NBA betting: Late scratches mount
There’s a theme running through the league. Teams with high-profile, injury-plagued players periodically rest them, trying to ensure they remain healthy for the playoffs, which start in May.
It’s good to check that before any wager, because these decisions impact the outcome and are often made close to tipoff.
That’s especially true for the Brooklyn Nets, Philadelphia 76ers and Los Angeles Lakers.
WV market: Cavs, Wizards played tough
The Washington Wizards covered the number three straight times before being blown out by the New York Knicks on Tuesday, 131-113.
They have a rematch with the Knicks on Thursday, then host the Detroit Pistons on Saturday and the Indiana Pacers on Monday. Russell Westbrook, second in the league in assists at just over 10, is always viable for props.
The Cavs, as forecast here last week, did play at least one strong game for pride in a recent homestand. They beat the Boston Celtics and Toronto Raptors before being blown out by the Sacramento Kings.
This is a team of extremes. They can look strong one night and get crushed the next.
Cleveland has a difficult road, playing at the Lakers on Friday, the Kings on Saturday and the Jazz on Monday.
The King is injured, Lakers are leaking oil
LeBron James was the MVP front-runner, and his Lakers were riding high a week ago.
But James is out indefinitely with a high-ankle sprain. It occurred in the first half of the Lakers’ ultimately 99-94 loss to the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday.
And the wheels have spun off for the Lakers.
They suddenly became 10-point dogs against the Phoenix Suns the following night. And they lost by 17. They then became +6 for a road game against the 18-24 New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday night. And they were blown out by 17 again.
The defending champs with consecutive 17-point setbacks? This could signal an official distress call for the Lakers, who are missing two stars in James and Anthony Davis. That’s a tall order to overcome.
The Lakers host the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday, the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday, the Orlando Magic on Sunday and the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday.
Get used to seeing plus numbers for them. They are, for the moment, an average team.
An MVP bargain buy?
James and Joel Embiid of the Sixers were both favored in the +200 range for NBA MVP a couple of weeks ago. Embiid had taken the lead but got hurt and is now +500 at DraftKings. James also took the lead and got hurt. He is +600.
The new pacesetter is Nikola Jokic at -110 — no value now, but it’s a reward, in a sense, to those who took him at double-digit betting odds a couple of weeks ago.
Will this pattern get played out by bettors backing another NBA star now?
“The guy that’s grabbing some money right now is James Harden,” Johnny Avello, the director of race and sportsbook operations for DraftKings, told PlayWV. “He’s all the way down to +900. At one point, he was 60-1 (or +6000). Not too long ago, you could have taken him for 30 or 40-1. He’s taking a good piece of the money now and has been a great player.”
Harden was traded to the Brooklyn Nets just after the season started and is a force. He teams with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant to give the Nets the three best players and highest salaries in the league. Harden is playing the most out of that trio now. Durant has only played 19 games.
The Utah Jazz, one of the best teams against the spread, did not have a productive road trip. But they are home against the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday and Saturday. They host the Cavaliers on Monday.
Is it time for a little run?
The Houston Rockets were actually favored before losing their 20th straight game last Sunday against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Then they plastered the Toronto Raptors to shatter the streak.
They have two games upcoming against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday and Saturday, and should be live in them, at least.
UFC 260: Brisk action in competitive main event
Heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic is the +102 underdog against top challenger Francis Ngannou, who is -121 for the Saturday card from Las Vegas.
This line has moved substantially. Ngannou opened at -175, but sharp bettors pounded the Miocic side and that number drifted down.
This is the second-most-competitive main event UFC has put up since returning last May 9.
Miocic owns a decision victory over Ngannou in 2018. There was an expectation of explosive power (Ngannou’s four straight KO/TKOs totaling less than three minutes) baked into the early line.
Miocic backers expect the fight to hit the late rounds.
Ngannou has never won a decision. When the fight goes all the way, he loses. His bettors bank on a KO/TKO.
Method of Victory and How Fight Ends props at FanDuel WV are enticing. Miocic has gone up to +460 to win by decision, as he did in 2018. Take either fighter to win by decision, and it’s +350.
NASCAR odds: Hitting the dirt
The Food City unfolds in Bristol, Tennessee, on Sunday. It’s the first time since 1970 that NASCAR has staged a dirt race toward NASCAR Cup standings.
How will it play out versus concrete? Hard to say, but the event put some new names on the DraftKings leaderboard.
Well-known Kyle Larson at +250 is a low-price favorite.
And then come names like:
- Christopher Bill +700
- Austin Dillon +1200
- Chase Briscoe +1300
If you have a betting angle, you’re at least as well off as those establishing odds. This is a great unknown.