Round 2 of the NBA and NHL playoffs are heating up this weekend, alongside 15 MLB series and several other major sports events.
Spring is a busy time in the online sports betting calendar at BetMGM. Here are some notable events:
Game 3s Begin Friday, May 5 | ABC, ESPN, TNT
The NBA season has played itself down to eight teams, and the NBA odds for the final four are only getting fiercer. This week, the sports world watched four active playoff series each play their first two games, with varied results throughout both conferences.
Some series, like Nuggets/Suns, seem like they could be over sooner rather than later. The Nuggets were +115 to beat Phoenix before Game 1; now, before Game 3, Denver is -450. Phoenix, which is missing Chris Paul, is +350.
Other series seem destined to be long, drawn-out affairs. The Knicks and Heat are both facing roster attrition, which means this series could turn into a battle of surging role players and timely contributions from hurt stars. Miami, which seized home-court advantage, is currently a nominal -115 favorite.
The other two series may have piqued the most interest among fans. Celtics/76ers and Lakers/Warriors both feature one of last year’s NBA Finals teams. Both teams want to get back to the Finals but have new hurdles to face.
Boston is eyeing a cleared-out Eastern Conference, with No. 1 seed Milwaukee upset in the first round and new MVP Joel Embiid playing at less than 100%. The Celtics have become the new favorite in the NBA championship odds market.
However, the Celtics are also working with a first-time playoff coach in Joe Mazzulla, and they don’t seem to have the same toughness and killer instinct that defined last year’s playoff run. Philadelphia is currently +200 to win the series.
Meanwhile, in California, two of the biggest brands in sports are facing off. Golden State has won four of the last eight championships, but its undersized roster (which played until June yet again last season) is showing its age these playoffs.
Stephen Curry’s 50-point masterpiece was needed just to get by Sacramento, and the Warriors appear to have no answer for Anthony Davis’ offense. The Lakers became a -175 series favorite after winning Game 1.
Madrid Open Championship Round
Saturday, May 6 and Sunday, May 7 | Tennis Channel
As the tennis calendar moves into May, players from both the men’s and women’s tours are getting more comfortable on clay. That’s quite important, since the French Open odds market will kick off later this month.
One of the most significant tournaments played in the run-up to Roland Garros this year is the Madrid Open, a big-time, 1000-level tournament for both tours. Like the French Open, the main draw is scheduled for a fortnight. The best players in the world come to compete against one another ahead of the Paris slam.
On the men’s side, No. 1 seed Carlos Alcaraz is hoping to defend his Madrid title from a year ago, when he became the youngest champion in tournament history. Alcaraz, who turned 20 this week, earned his 2022 championship with consecutive victories against Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, and Alexander Zverev.
In this year’s draw, Alcaraz has gone from hunter to hunted. He’s the preeminent favorite in the tournament and already dispatched Zverev, 6-1, 6-2, in the quarterfinals. Dangerous opponents like Stefanos Tsitsipas are still lurking, but it’s Alcaraz’s tournament to lose.
On the women’s side, keen tennis observers know how unbeatably good Iga Swiatek is on clay. The Polish phenom is 38-3 on the dirt since the start of the 2021 season and has won two of the last three French Opens. She’s a heavy favorite to win the title in Madrid.
However, this year’s hottest player has actually been Aryna Sabalenka – this year’s Australian Open winner – and she just might be up to the challenge in a chalky, No. 1 vs No. 2 championship showdown. Sabalenka is 21-3 this calendar year, including a 7-1 mark on clay.
As is the case for dual tour draws, the women’s championship will be played on Saturday, followed by the men’s championship on Sunday. Keep an eye on the tennis odds this weekend.
The Kentucky Derby
Saturday, May 6 | NBC | 6:57 p.m. ET
No spring sports season is complete without the spectacle of the Kentucky Derby. Often called the most exciting two minutes in sports, this year’s race will be the 149th edition of the famous race.
This year’s modest favorite is Forte, who will be starting at gate No. 15. It’s a starting position with some recent success, as 2015 triple crown-winner American Pharoah also won the Derby from this position. So did Authentic in 2020.
There hasn’t been a triple crown winner since Justified in 2018. In fact, there hasn’t even been a repeat winner from the Kentucky Derby to the Preakness since 2018. Last year’s Derby winner, Rich Strike, finished in sixth at Belmont and didn’t run the Preakness at all.
Other early favorites include Tapit Trice, Angel of Empire, and Practical Move. The handful of longshots include Jace’s Road and Sun Thunder.