With the 15 MLB series, the beginning of the NBA playoffs, and the Monte-Carlo Masters championship, there are many online sports betting opportunities this weekend at BetMGM. Here are some notable events:
The NBA Playoffs
Begins Saturday, April 15
The 82 games are over, and the play-in games are settled. Saturday marks the proper beginning of the 2023 NBA playoffs, and the storylines are as rich as ever.
The Eastern conference is expected to be a top-heavy bloodbath, with Milwaukee, Boston, and Philadelphia all expected to contend in a three-way race. Cleveland and New York are good enough to throw a monkey wrench in somewhere.
The far more interesting conference is the West, where the championship is truly open for just about any of the eight teams to seize. Phoenix, the No. 4 seed, is the favorite to win the West at +200.
Denver, the top seed in the West, has the highest number of tickets bet on it at BetMGM, though not the highest amount of market handle (AKA money) bet on it. Instead, that honor belongs to… the Pelicans, who were eliminated from contention in Wednesday night’s play-in game.
The Lakers, playing as the No. 7 seed, are an increasingly popular pick among the betting public. Back on Jan. 1, the NBA odds had them at 100-to-1 to win the title; now, they’re 14-to-1.
No individual first-round series is more interesting than the No. 3 vs No. 6 series in the West, where the Sacramento Kings will be a higher-seeded underdog to the reigning champions of Golden State.
The Kings, who snapped the longest playoff drought in professional sports this year, are +210 to win their first-round series. The Warriors are -275 despite an awful road record and a splintered roster that hasn’t played together all year.
Bettors who are skeptical of the Warriors can find great return in the Kings, who will enjoy home-court advantage in this series. They’re also 3-1 ATS against the Warriors this season and have the No. 1 most efficient offense in the NBA, averaging 1.159 points per possession.
Tampa Bay Rays at Toronto Blue Jays
Friday, April 14 through Sunday, April 16
Let’s state the obvious. There is no such thing as a Major League Baseball team that goes 162-0.
Still, Tampa’s long win streak to start the season is flirting with historic territory. The most impressive thing about the dozen early wins might be that the Rays have won lots of different styles of games. They’ve scored 10 runs or more in four games; they’ve also limited their opponent to two runs or fewer eight times.
Thus, anyone who bet Rays futures in the MLB odds market is doing a very early victory lap.
But while a double-digit win streak to start the season is impressive no matter the context, it does start to make a little more sense when you realize the opponents have been Detroit, Washington, Oakland, and Boston.
All four of those teams are currently in last place in their respective divisions.
The Rays will get their first true test of the young season this weekend when they grab their passports and head to Toronto for a three-game series against the Blue Jays.
Toronto is in an early tussle with the Yankees for second place in a stacked AL East. A couple of wins this weekend could bring the Rays back to Earth and help the Jays keep pace with New York.
Sunday’s finale is an expected duel between Shane McClanahan (3-0, 1.59 ERA) and Alek Manoah (1-0, 4.91 ERA). Make sure to tune in for that one.
Monte-Carlo Masters Championship Round
Sunday, April 16
The Monte-Carlo Masters is the first significant men’s tournament played on clay. And while a few prominent players were forced to sit this week’s tournament out – world No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz and master of clay Rafael Nadal among them – this week’s draw is still stacked with talent.
No. 1 seed Novak Djokovic missed recent ATP 1000 tournaments in Florida and California thanks to an ongoing vaccination conflict with the US government. However, he returned to the tour and played in Monte Carlo, advancing to Thursday’s round of 16 after an early win over Russian qualifier Ivan Gakhov.
But powerful athletes like Djokovic are often their weakest on clay, as the slower pace of play can neutralize some of their typical strengths. Djokovic – once a +100 favorite to win at Monte Carlo – was bounced on Thursday at the hands of Lorenzo Musetti.
Even before Djokovic was eliminated, some bettors were looking farther down the tennis odds table for potential sleepers. Stefanos Tsitsipas, the No. 2 seed, won this tournament in 2022.
Holger Rune is an up-and-coming contender in the middle of the draw who enjoyed an unexpected extra rest day on Thursday after Matteo Berrettini forfeited via walkover.
Taylor Fritz, the top-ranked U.S. player, is often a popular ticket among American bettors.