Charles Krupa / AP
Saturday, April 15, 2023 | 2 a.m.
The success of the Weekend wagers has been built on futures betting with a handful of large scores over the past three years since the column’s inception.
This year’s now-concluded NBA regular season won’t go down as one of the campaigns that yielded the biggest reward, but at least it wasn’t a loser either. Bets on the New Orleans Pelicans and Minnesota Timberwolves to win their divisions never came close, but under win totals on the Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Clippers made for easy cashes.
And then, a big bet on the Boston Celtics to win the Atlantic Division was enough to push me into the black with a $200 return on the handful of season-long wagers. It’s not near as large of a return as desired, but it sure beats losing and there’s still a way to go.
I’m holding onto a bet on the Celtics to win the NBA Championship, and hopefully can add more to the column’s bottom line throughout the playoffs over the next month and a half. The road to the NBA Finals starts today, as the playoffs become perhaps the most popular of many events Weekend wagers will attempt to cover and bet on going forward.
Read on for this week’s bets. Odds are the best currently available in Las Vegas at publication time with the sports book noted. Plays outside of the column will be linked and tracked in the record at the bottom of the page.
Golf (1-3, -$10): Matt Kuchar -125 head-to-head vs. Rickie Fowler in third round of RBC Heritage (Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook)
$220 to win $200
No one has better course history at Harbour Town Golf Links in Hilton Head, S.C., than Kuchar. The 44-year-old has a victory, four top fives and seven top 10s here throughout his PGA Tour career. Course history can oftentimes be overrated, but this is one example where it doesn’t appear to be that way. The sample is too large, and the fit is too perfect with Kuchar’s accurate, finesse style. He’s five strokes back this year going into the weekend, and poised to make some noise again. He’s currently tied with Fowler, who’s one of the hottest names on tour because of his recent resurgence. But Fowler is not on Kuchar’s level on this course. The betting market hasn’t adjusted enough to how well Kuchar has played in Hilton Head. He should be at least a -140 favorite in this matchup.
MLB (1-1, $40): Los Angeles Angels Even money at Boston Red Sox (Wynn)
$200 to win $200
I’ve already written about being high on the Angels and looking for spots to bet on them early this season. They came through on the first occasion in the column, and now seem to have value again a couple weeks later. The Red Sox are nothing special, and should be at a slight pitching disadvantage this afternoon with Nick Pivetta facing off against the Angels’ Tyler Anderson. Both lineups are above average, but the Angels’ quality is a little higher and has played better to start the year. I’d make Los Angeles close to a -120 favorite, leaving plenty of room for a bet at Even money.
NBA (4-6, $15): Boston Celtics -9 vs. Atlanta Hawks in Game 1 (Caesars/William Hill)
$220 to win $200
As mentioned above, I’m already holding some Celtics’ exposure, but would like to add more where available. They weren’t the best team down the stretch of the season — that distinction belongs to the rival Bucks — but Boston still has the highest ceiling, as seen in its blistering start to the season. There’s no reason to lay a -1200 series price in its first-round matchup with Atlanta, even though I believe the pairing is every bit that lopsided. Instead, I’ll look to attack on a game-by-game basis to start the playoffs. There’s no reason the Celtics shouldn’t be a double-digit favorite on their home floor against an erratic Hawks’ team. Atlanta doesn’t have the defense to slow Boston’s wing-heavy attack. The Hawks might eke out a game in the series, but most of the contests are going to be lopsided.
NHL (2-4, -$480): Winnipeg Jets +150 series price vs. Vegas Golden Knights (Boyd Sports)
$150 to win $225
A playoff-bound team I will not be looking to add exposure on is the Golden Knights. Vegas has a shot in the Western Conference but it’s overperformed its underlying numbers for much of the second half of the season, and some regression should be expected going forward. The Golden Knights should be a favorite in their first-round series but more around a -130 tag than the -170 they’re laying at Boyd. Connor Hellebuyck could present problems for Vegas and gives Winnipeg a major edge in net. This line is more commonly around +130, which I wouldn’t play, but it’s a smart investment to fire away at anything +140 or better.
UFC (6-4, $900): Max Holloway -175 vs. Arnold Allen at UFC Kansas City (South Point)
$350 to win $200
Backing a favored former champion in a UFC main event worked out last weekend, so let’s run it back again. The British Allen is on an impressive 12-fight win streak, but the overall competition leaves much to be desired and a couple of the victories register in the lucky variety. Holloway meanwhile continues to demonstrate he’s among the best in the world every time he steps into the octagon. Many say the 31-year-old has taken too much damage and gotten worse, but there’s little evidence of that in his actual fights. There’s no shame in losing to pound-for-pound great Alexander Volkanovski. Holloway will keep beating virtually everyone else he encounters at 145 pounds, starting with Allen tonight.
UFC (6-4, $900): Edson Barboza +155 vs. Billy Quarantillo at UFC Kansas City (STN Sports)
$160 to win $248
Why not dip into the co-main event too? Speaking of adjusting for opponents, Barboza may not have fallen as far as his 3-7 record in his last 10 fights indicates. A lot of the veteran’s struggles have come because he’s consistently faced the best of the best and never backed down for a challenge. Meanwhile, he’s going to be the second, if not outright, toughest fighter Quarantillo has ever squared off against. Barboza may get hit too often, but so does Quarantillo. It’s a virtual coin flip as far as who will be the last man standing at the T-Mobile Center, and therefore, taking a big plus price with either fighter is worthwhile.
USFL (0-0, $0): New Orleans Breakers to win USFL title at 7-to-1 (SuperBook)
$200 to win $1,400
Another spring football league arrives just in time after I wasn’t able to find anything I liked on this week’s penultimate XFL regular-season slate. And more specifically, McLeod Bethel-Thompson arrives for the Breakers. The former UCLA and Sacramento State quarterback has been a longtime standout in the Canadian Football League, winning a pair of Grey Cups including last year’s with the Toronto Argonauts. He could be the piece to set the Breakers over the top after they reached the playoffs last year before getting eliminated amid a turnover flurry. The Breakers don’t deserve to be listed lower than the defending champion Birmingham Stallions or runner-up Philadelphia Stars, but the gap shouldn’t be this large either.
Weekend betting column year to date: 24-30, $890
Weekend betting column all-time: 503-527-5, $19,016.95
Previous pending future wagers: Vegas Golden Knights at 15-to-1 to win the 2023 Stanley Cup ($200 to win $3,000); Giannis Antetokounmpo to win NBA MVP at 7-to-1 ($300 to win $2,100); Minnesota Timberwolves to win Western Conference at 15-to-1 ($100 to win $1,500); Minnesota Timberwolves to win NBA Finals at 33-to-1 ($75 to win $2,475); Boston Celtics to win the NBA Finals at 7-to-1 ($300 to win $2,100); Luka Doncic to win NBA MVP at 4-to-1 ($450 to win $1,800); Texas to win the College Football Playoff at 30-to-1 ($100 to win $3,000); Tanner Mordecai to win the Heisman Trophy at 200-to-1 ($30 to win $6,000); Atlanta Braves at 5-to-1 to win the National League ($300 to win $1,500; Atlanta Braves at 10-to-1 to win the World Series ($300 to win $3,000); Buffalo Bills at 9-to-1 to win Super Bowl 58 ($300 to win $2,700); Scottie Scheffler at 13-to-1 to win the Masters ($200 to win $2,600); Thomas Pieters to be top finishing LIV golfer in Masters at 25-to-1; Manchester City to win English Premier League at +125 ($200 to win $250); Jaren Jackson Jr. to win NBA Defensive Player of the Year at -165 ($495 to win $300)