With the conclusion of the NFL season, West Virginia sportsbooks will shift their attention to winter sports like basketball and hockey.
This is great news for fans of the NBA and NHL, as books are likely to introduce more promotions and odds boosts for these leagues going forward.
While both finished last year in their respective bubbles, they’ve been successful so far in keeping most players COVID-19-free.
Although the NBA season is still young, the better teams are starting to separate themselves from the pack. Of course, many of the teams expected to do well are near the top of the standings, but there are several surprises as well.
The NHL is in a similar boat, even with a lot of teams playing fewer than 10 games at the moment.
The prime-time slate of basketball and hockey action next week is very intriguing for bettors in the Mountain State. Let’s examine the top games and break down any betting information you need to know.
When the Boston Celtics and Utah Jazz battle on Tuesday night, it could be a potential NBA Finals preview.
While all the fans in Los Angeles would strongly disagree, the Jazz are one of the hottest teams to start out the year. They’re currently 17-5 overall and have a hold on first place in the Western Conference.
Of course, every quality NBA team features several top-level players. The Jazz are paced by both guard Donovan Mitchell and center Rudy Gobert.
Mitchell leads the squad in scoring with 23 points per game. Gobert is a terror in the paint, averaging over 13 points and rebounds thus far in 2021.
The Celtics are no slouches themselves. Despite owning just an 11-9 record through 20 games, they still have one of the best rosters in the league.
Youngsters Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are both on a tear. Each is averaging more than 26 points per contest, good enough to be in the top 11 in the NBA in scoring.
While there aren’t any odds available at WV sportsbooks for this game yet, it appears as if Utah will be a slight favorite. It’s 9-2 at home, whereas Boston is only 6-6 on the road.
Bettors should expect a fairly high game total in this one as well. The two sides average over 225 points combined.
That being said, both teams also rank in the top 10 in points allowed. Utah is third with just 105.5, and Boston is ninth, averaging 109.4 points surrendered.
According to ESPN’s Basketball Power Index, the Jazz have the edge heading into their nationally televised game next week. It gives them a 61% chance to come out of this one with another home victory.
Bucks vs. Suns
On Wednesday night, hoops fans get another solid doubleheader on ESPN. In the late matchup, the Milwaukee Bucks travel to Phoenix to take on the upstart Suns.
The Bucks sit in second place in the East with a 13-8 mark. Although they are one of the top contenders in the conference, they’re struggling on the road this season.
Milwaukee is just 4-6 away from home.
Phoenix has continued some of the success it showed to close out last season in the bubble. It’s 11-9, with an impressive 9-7 record against other teams in the West.
Giannis Antetokounmpo is the Bucks’ best player and is coming off back-to-back MVP seasons. He leads the team in points, rebounds and assists, while adding over a steal and block per game, too.
The Suns have a more well-rounded attack, with a couple of great players. The addition of veteran Chris Paul appears to be paying dividends already. He’s averaging over eight assists to lead Phoenix.
This team wouldn’t be where they are without rising star Devin Booker, though. The 24-year-old is scoring more than 23 points per game while shooting better than 47% from the field.
Again, there aren’t any odds available for this game yet. Bettors should be sure to check out any of the WV online sports betting apps early next week when they are released.
This matchup looks like it will be highly entertaining. ESPN’s BPI likes the Bucks even on the road, giving them around a 61% chance of winning.
Pittsburgh Penguins preview
Things are also heating up on the ice. The NHL season is underway as well, and there have been plenty of surprises so far.
Although some teams aren’t performing up to par just yet, it is still very early in the season.
One team looking to get back into the Stanley Cup conversation is the Pittsburgh Penguins. Since winning consecutive titles in 2016 and 2017, the Pens haven’t gotten out of the second round.
They lost in the Qualifying Round to Montreal in four games during last year’s postseason bubble.
Through 10 games, Pittsburgh is 5-4-1, which puts them in fourth in the East division.
Part of the early struggles for the Penguins is their defense and goaltending. They’ve surrendered 37 goals against, with only six teams giving up more.
Goalie Tristan Jarry hasn’t performed well at all. In six starts, he’s earned just two wins and showcases a 3.92 goals against average.
Not surprisingly, Sidney Crosby leads Pittsburgh in points with eight, while Bryan Rust is right behind him with seven.
Following a meeting with the Islanders this weekend, Pittsburgh is on the road against the New Jersey Devils in one of the nationally televised games next Tuesday.
It is likely to be favored on the road, in part because the Devils are coming off a sizable layoff. New Jersey was forced to postpone three games because of a COVID-19 outbreak.
Its game with the Pens will be its first since Jan. 31.
Pittsburgh should be the favorite at WV sportsbooks next week, but bettors shouldn’t sleep on the Devils. They’re only one point behind the Penguins and have proven they’re capable of competing with the East’s best.