With the Big Game now in the rearview mirror, it’s time to rev up your engines for the Daytona 500 this Sunday. Denny Hamlin will be trying to do what no other NASCAR driver has done before, so it should be an exciting race with many contenders looking to put an end to his Daytona dominance.
Also on the docket this weekend, we’ve got an East vs. West clash for hardwood supremacy in the NBA, and two of the biggest Stanley Cup favorites colliding on center ice.
Here are the key angles that deserve to be on your betting radar.
Sunday, February 14 | TV: FOX
The 63rd running of The Great American Race features a mix of new squads and established powerhouses as the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series kicks off.
Coming off back-to-back Daytona 500 wins, Denny Hamlin remains the favorite to hoist the Harley J. Earl Trophy again, but remember that no one has ever captured three straight before. Will Hamlin be able to make NASCAR history for Joe Gibbs Racing?
Joey Logano could be one of the sleepers here, as the 14-year veteran has consistently finished among the pack leaders in his last six Daytona 500s – including his memorable 2015 victory. His Penske Racing teammate, Ryan Blaney, is also a fine pick, especially since he finished runner-up in last year’s Daytona 500 and has performed really well in superspeedway races.
For a true longshot story, roll the dice with Bubba Wallace as he drives into the spotlight for Michael Jordan’s new 23XI Racing team. At least he’ll have greatness on his side in the No. 23 Toyota.
The last time a pole winner won the Daytona 500 was back in 2000, so don’t anticipate Alex Bowman’s odds getting a boost (he’s actually qualified on the front row in four consecutive years, to no avail).
Milwaukee Bucks @ Utah Jazz
Friday, February 12
Someone break up the Jazz!
Utah looks like a rejuvenated group on a mission after their heartbreaking finish in the playoffs last year. Donovan Mitchell is playing his most inspired basketball yet, even stepping in for the injured Mike Conley at point guard, and Jordan Clarkson has emerged as an early favorite for Sixth Man of the Year. The Jazz don’t seem to be concerned about Conley’s tight hamstring; Utah has kept humming along just fine without him.
The Jazz are the only unit in the top five in both offensive and defensive efficiency, but the Bucks are among the league’s best in those categories as well. Giannis Antetokounmpoput up a whopping 47 points in a narrow defeat to the Suns, so The Freak will be very hungry to get some vengeance.
Milwaukee has been more vulnerable on the road this season, with 7 of their 9 losses coming away from the friendly confines of Fiserv Forum. Utah, on the other hand, maintain one of the league’s elite records at home. Also worth noting: The Jazz beat the Bucks, 131-118, in their last matchup on Jan. 8. Expect more offensive fireworks in this showdown.
Colorado Avalanche @ Vegas Golden Knights
Sunday, February 14 | TV: NBCSN
Two of the major Stanley Cup favorites go head-to-head in what could be a tough back-and-forth battle.
The Vegas Golden Knights are on a roll atop the West division, but they’ll need to fend off the well-rested Avalanche on Sunday. Colorado’s had four straight games postponed after two of their players were placed on the league’s COVID-19 restricted list.
The Golden Knights have done a great job of outscoring teams in the third period this season, and they’ll need that extra boost to contend with Colorado’s dangerous Power Play attack.
Colorado is a little banged up heading into this showdown, including their points leader Nathan MacKinnon, who suffered a lower-body injury Jan. 31 against Minnesota. The Avs are 3-2-1 on the road this season while Vegas sports the league’s best record on home ice, though back-to-back games might take its toll on the Golden Knights.