Each Monday, our “What’s on Tap” series previews the week ahead in the world of sports betting. Come here for a summary of upcoming financial happenings, legislative and regulatory meetings, industry conferences, top games scheduled for the week, and much more. Also, check out our weekly review “Get a Grip” for a look back at last week’s notable news.
Monday, May 2
Lightning begin pursuit of rare Stanley Cup three-peat
More than three decades have elapsed since an NHL team has won at least three consecutive Stanley Cup titles, a feat last achieved in 1983 when the New York Islanders captured four in a row. With a Stanley Cup title this June, the Tampa Bay Lightning will join an elite club as just the fourth NHL franchise to hoist Lord Stanley’s Cup in three straight seasons. The Lightning begin their quest Monday in an Eastern Conference opening-round playoff matchup against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The Lightning face a challenging path in a loaded Atlantic Division, led by the Florida Panthers, this season’s Presidents’ Trophy winner with a league-best 122 points. The winner of the Lightning-Leafs series is expected to face the Panthers in the second round.
In recent years, home-ice advantage has carried little importance in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Over the last 10 postseasons, excluding the 2020 playoffs contested on neutral ice, the lower seed has prevailed in 48.9% of the series, according to the NHL. In total, 11 teams have odds of 20/1 or lower at FanDuel to win the 2022 Stanley Cup. The Avalanche enter the playoffs as favorites with odds of +350, followed by the Panthers and Flames at +550 and +700, respectively.
Injuries abound in Heat-Sixers series
The status of Joel Embiid has created major odds fluctuations in the Sixers-Heat series. Embiid, the Sixers’ All-Star center, is out indefinitely with a facial fracture suffered in Game 6 of the Sixers’ series win over the Raptors. At a minimum, Embiid is expected to miss the first two games of the Eastern Conference semifinals, which begin Monday in Miami.
The #Embiid injury has been seismic from an oddsmaking standpoint. But for bettors who think the @sixers can steal a game in Miami, there's plenty of value to be found, writes @EricRaskin. https://t.co/YHfF6JQLQQ @PennBets #NBAPlayoffs @MiamiHEAT
— US Bets (@US_Bets) May 2, 2022
At BetMGM, the Heat are a -350 favorite to eliminate the Sixers. Prior to the injury announcement, the Heat hovered as a +140 underdog. While Heat guard Jimmy Butler (knee) is expected to return on Monday night, teammate Kyle Lowry is reportedly still out with a hamstring injury.
In the Western Conference, injuries will also play a role in the Suns-Mavericks series after Luka Doncic and Devin Booker both missed games in the opening round. Both All-Star guards are expected to play in Monday’s opener. The Suns have odds of -300 to defeat the Mavs (+240) in the best-of-seven series.
Tuesday, May 3
Bucks, Warriors eye 2-0 leads in respective series
When the NBA opened the second round of the playoffs Sunday, both Milwaukee and Golden State notched road wins in impressive fashion. The Bucks’ stifling defense forced the Celtics into 18 turnovers in a 101-89 win, while Golden State erased a double-digit deficit against Memphis in a narrow 117-116 victory. On Tuesday, both road teams can take command of the series before returning home for the next two contests.
With the one-point win, the Warriors are now heavy -550 favorites at DraftKings to prevail in the series over the Grizzlies. The traders at DraftKings expect a closer series in the East, where Milwaukee has -130 odds to eliminate the Celtics (+110). Boston cannot afford to go down 0-2, however, with three of the final five games of the series scheduled to take place in Milwaukee.
As of Monday, the Warriors remained the top choice at DraftKings to win the NBA title, with odds of +255 to do so. They were just ahead of the Suns (+290), Bucks (+500), Celtics (+550), and Heat (+600). The Sixers, Mavericks, and Grizzlies are all considered longshots with odds of +2500.
California ballot initiative deadline
Though Californians could vote on as many as four ballot referendums on sports betting in November, one initiative backed by a bevy of top operators faces a Tuesday deadline to collect the requisite signatures to make it on the ballot.
The initiative, the California Solutions to Homelessness and Mental Health Act, would direct the majority of proceeds from a 10% tax on sports wagering revenue to social programs such as those to combat homelessness throughout the state. The initiative will need 997,139 signatures to make it onto the ballot, according to the California Secretary of State office. The campaign is backed by a group of sportsbook operators that includes DraftKings, FanDuel, Bally’s, Penn National Gaming/Barstool Sportsbook, and WynnBet.
Friday, May 6
WNBA’s Chicago Sky begin title defense
There are four games on the WNBA schedule on Friday when the WNBA opens its 26th regular season. In Chicago, the Sky will raise their 2021 title banner at Wintrust Arena prior to Friday’s game against the Los Angeles Sparks.
The Sky are not favored, however, to win the title again. At Bet365, the sportsbook has installed the Connecticut Sun as the favorite at odds of +350. The Sun are led by 2021 WNBA MVP Jonquel Jones as well as forward Alyssa Thomas and guard DeWanna Bonner. Five teams have odds of +500 or better to win the championship.
WNBA futures odds at Bet365
- Connecticut Sun — +350
- Las Vegas Aces — +375
- Seattle Storm — +450
- Chicago Sky — +450
- Phoenix Mercury — +500
Saturday, May 7
Epicenter pegged as favorite in Kentucky Derby
Without a definitive superstar in the field, the Kentucky Derby may be as wide open as any year since 2009 when Mine That Bird won at odds of 50/1. Ahead of Monday’s draw, Louisiana Derby winner Epicenter has been installed as the +515 early favorite at Circa Sports. Three others have single-digit odds at Circa: Bluegrass Stakes winner Zandon (+580), Santa Anita Derby runner-up Messier (+595), and Taiba (+630), the winner of last month’s Santa Anita Derby.
The Derby appears to lack pace, which benefits Messier as a frontrunner. If the 3-year-old son of Empire Maker is allowed to gain separation on an uncontested lead, he could win in wire-to-wire fashion as Medina Spirit did last year. On the other hand, Epicenter and Taiba both prefer stalking trips and could be ready to pounce if the early leaders tire.
Zandon, meanwhile, flew down the stretch in the Bluegrass for a convincing 2 1/2-length win over Smile Happy. Still, deep closers have fared poorly in the Derby over the last 15 years, with Mine The Bird as one of the only late runners to cross the wire first in the Run for the Roses. Zandon jockey Flavien Prat may encounter considerable traffic in his bid to win the Derby for the second time in four years.
Kentucky Derby 🏇🏆
Odds to Win (theo hold 17.0%)
— Circa Sports (@CircaSports) April 29, 2022
Canelo faces Bivol for light heavyweight title
When Canelo Alvarez takes on Dmitry Bivol on Saturday night in Las Vegas, he will be looking to win his ninth straight bout. Alvarez, who is moving up from super middleweight to light heavyweight to challenge Bivol, has captured eight straight fights since his September 2017 fight with Gennady Golovkin ended in a draw. Alvarez is a -425 favorite at DraftKings to defeat Bivol (+320). The odds are -260 for the fight to last more than 10.5 rounds, with odds of +210 on the under.
Sunday, May 8
Verstappen, Leclerc resume Formula 1 duel in Miami
Through four races in the 2022 Formula 1 World Championship, Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc have separated themselves from the pack. Leclerc leads the standings with victories in Bahrain and Australia, while Verstappen is in second after wins in Saudi Arabia and the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix. In Sunday’s inaugural Miami Grand Prix, Verstappen (+105) is a slight favorite over Leclerc at PointsBet.
The 57-lap race will take place at the Miami International Autodrome, a 3.4-mile temporary track built around Hard Rock Stadium, the home of the Miami Dolphins. Leclerc, who has odds of +130 at PointsBet, enters the race with a 27-point lead over Verstappen. Lewis Hamilton, a seven-time Formula One world champion, is the co-fifth choice to win on Sunday with odds of 50/1.
— Sportskeeda F1 (@SportskeedaF1) April 26, 2022