OK, now give us three more NBA Finals games like the one we just saw.
We finally got a classic from the Milwaukee Bucks and Phoenix Suns in Game 4. Devin Booker was phenomenal, Khris Middleton was clutch and Giannis Antetokounmpo had a block that is more unbelievable every time you watch the replay. The Bucks won 109-103 and we have a series. The Bucks and Suns are tied at 2-2.
The Bucks and Suns resume play on Saturday night for Game 5. The series shifts back to Phoenix, and home-court advantage has been huge in the series, and to the odds. Phoenix is -4 at BetMGM, a 9-point shift from the closing line for Game 4.
The home team has covered in every game this series. The first three games, the home team covered easily. In Game 4, Phoenix bettors got unlucky. Suns +5 looked safe most of the night. Phoenix led most of the game and rarely trailed by much. The Suns had the ball trailing by 2 with less than 30 seconds left when a Chris Paul turnover led to a breakout and a layup. The Bucks hit all their free throws and won by 6. But no matter if it was fortunate, the home team cashed another ticket.
In this era, across all sports, home-field advantage seems to be lessened. It's almost gone in the NFL. But the NBA Finals have been different. The crowds of both historically beleaguered franchises have been incredible. Being a part of sold-out arenas after a year of sitting at home seems to be a factor. Officiating is usually the biggest difference for home teams. In Game 3, the game turned against the Suns when Deandre Ayton got in foul trouble. Devin Booker's foul trouble in Game 4 was a factor (though everyone freaked out when officials ignored his sixth and seventh fouls in the fourth quarter).
We'll see what Game 5 brings. Paul wasn't great in Milwaukee but will presumably rebound in Game 5 at home. The Bucks haven't been close in the second half of either game in Phoenix. The Suns have seemed very comfortable there. Phoenix will get a friendly whistle back at home. Let's take the Suns to defend home court and cover on Saturday. Then we'll probably do the same dance for Game 6 when the series shifts back to Milwaukee.
Here's the first look at the betting slate for the weekend:
OK, now can MLB return?
There was a false start for baseball on Thursday, when the only game on the schedule was postponed. The New York Yankees had some positive COVID tests, and their game against the Red Sox had to be postponed.
While hoping that doesn't start an outbreak in the sport, there are 17 games on the schedule, including a Marlins-Phillies doubleheader. Yankees-Red Sox is still on the schedule and it is a huge series, even if other news is overshadowing that. The Red Sox are small -115 favorites at BetMGM.
It'll be nice to have baseball back after some days off.
What are the best MLB games on the slate?
The best under-the-radar series of the weekend might be a three-game set between the NL Central leading Milwaukee Brewers and a hard-charging Cincinnati Reds team. The Reds are four games back and this series is big in the race. Every other team is eight games back of the Brewers in the division.
The Houston Astros are -140 favorites as they start the second half at the Chicago White Sox. The White Sox have the best record in the AL, but not by much and the Astros are huge favorites at Chicago to start the second half. This could be an ALCS preview.
What else is going on this weekend?
The British Open is happening, though the time difference makes it an odd viewing experience for Americans. Collin Morikawa was among the golfers off to a huge start on Friday, and there are some recognizable names high on the leaderboard. It should be a great weekend for the final major of the year.
The NBA Finals is Saturday. Baseball is back in full swing. The US Men's National Team plays a soccer match Sunday in the group stage of the CONCACAF Gold Cup and are -120 favorites on the three-way line at BetMGM against Canada.
Not a bad weekend after a few light days.
What's the best bet?
While it's hard to pinpoint anything with many MLB teams yet to announce their starting rotation to begin the second half, I like the Seattle Mariners as a +120 underdog at the Los Angeles Angels. The Mariners have been a bit under the radar all season, it's not a Shohei Ohtani day to pitch, and I don't know that the Mariners should be underdogs.
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