We never would have thought we’d be cheering and betting on NBA and NHL playoff games here in the Tuley’s Takes home office, but we have to admit it’s been pretty exciting. I was afraid going into the first rounds that the favorites could dominate, and that’s been true for the most part. However, we’ve cashed our share of tickets by being selective. The New York Islanders were our lone NHL first-round series bet, and the Mavericks, our top pick in the NBA round of 16, have won two games outright in their series against the Clippers.
Let’s update our Takes on the series for the coming week.
Tuley’s Takes on NBA
Magic vs. Bucks
After cashing on the Magic in their shocking 122-110 upset of the No. 1-seeded Bucks in Game 1, I passed on the next three games. However, the Bucks won all three by 14 or 15 points as it hovered right around the spread as Orlando battled valiantly despite being overmatched, so I’ll take the Magic + 14 in Game 5 as they try to avoid elimination.
Thunder vs. Rockets
I was able to steal Game 1 with the Rockets + 1.5, but I’ve passed after the Rockets flipped to favoritism. I’ve been waiting to flip to the Thunder if Russell Westbrook would return from his strained right quad and the oddsmakers overadjust, but that still looks unlikely for Wednesday’s Game 5. It’s tempting to take the Thunder at + 3.5, but I’ll pass.
Trail Blazers vs. Lakers
When so many people were jumping on the Blazers’ bandwagon, I’m glad I passed, even though I did miss the Game 1 upset. Still, the Lakers have taken control of the series at 3-1 and I’m still not tempted to take the Blazers + 12.5 in Wednesday’s Game 5. Damian Lillard, who left Game 4 with a knee injury, is listed as out for Game 5.
Jazz vs. Nuggets
I made the right call in passing on the Jazz in the opener, when they failed to cover + 4.5 in overtime, but then jumped on them in Game 2. I’ve passed since then because the Jazz became the favorites. The Jazz took a 3-1 series lead heading into Tuesday’s night game, and if they didn’t close it out then, they should Thursday.
Celtics vs. Raptors
Yes, the second round gets underway Thursday, even though some first-round series are still in action. I’m glad I didn’t fade these teams in the first round. I’ve been high on the Raptors’ chances to at least go far in defending their title, but it ends here with the Celtics as live + 135 underdogs. The Celtics won the season series 3-1, and there’s no reason they can’t win a best-of-seven. Granted, they lost Gordon Hayward to a sprained ankle, but they’ve had starters missing time all season. Besides, it looks like the Raptors could start the series without point guard Kyle Lowry. I’ll also begin the series by taking the Celtics + 2 in Game 1.
Mavericks vs. Clippers
The Mavericks have been good to me by not only covering Games 2 and 4 but winning outright at + 185 and + 260 underdogs, respectively. Information is critical in sports betting, but sometimes ignorance is bliss — I was unaware Dallas’ Kristaps Porzingis was going to miss Game 4 and had already made my wagers. Even though Luka Doncic carried the Mavs to victory pretty much single-handedly in Game 4, I’m going to pass on the Mavs until Doncic and Porzingis are both in the starting lineup.
Tuley’s Takes on NHL
Stars vs. Avalanche
The Stars are already off to a 2-0 lead in this second-round series. Unfortunately, I passed on them at + 135 in the opener and + 130 in Game 2. The Avalanche are the better team, and I expect them to get back into the series, so I’ll continue to pass. But I would consider jumping on the Stars again if it gets to 2-2.
Islanders vs. Flyers
After cashing my + 140 series ticket on the Islanders over the Capitals, I got even money on Game 1 vs. the Flyers and they won 4-0. We’re also expecting the Flyers to rebound and will pass on the Islanders in Game 2
Bruins vs. Lightning
The Bruins won Game 1. I’m passing on this series as it’s a coin flip, just like the pick-’em prices we’ve seen in the first two games.
Golden Knights vs. Canucks
I’m continuing to let my Stanley Cup bet on the Golden Knights ride at 6-1, as they should dispose of the Canucks in five games at most. I did bet Vegas -1.5 in Games 1 and 2.
Vegas Football Contest Update
With the NFL season expected, the Westgate SuperContests and Circa Sports Million signups continue, though far behind where they were in recent years or where they were hoping to be this year.
At the end of SuperContest Weekend at the Westgate on Sunday night, the $1,500 buy-in SuperContest (five NFL picks a week against the spread) was at only 375 entries. Last year it had 2,191 on the way to a record 3,328 entries. The last time the SuperContest had fewer than 1,000 entries was when it had 745 in 2012, just before it started its exponential growth the rest of the decade.
The $5,000 winner-take-all SuperContest Gold (same format as SC Classic) had only 14 entries as of Sunday night after having 63 last year at this time on the way to 117. However, that was down from the inaugural SC Gold in 2018.
The Westgate is also taking entries for its $500 buy-in SuperContest ReBoot (same format except it runs in NFL Weeks 9-17). That was at 17 entries Sunday night with no comparison to previous years, as 2019 was the first time it had the contest and didn’t announce it until after the season had started.
The entries for the $1,000 buy-in Circa Sports Million II (also five NFL plays a week against the spread), which has a $3 million prize pool and $1 million first-place prize guaranteed by owner Derek Stevens, was at 535 on Sunday afternoon during their inaugural signup weekend. Last year Circa was at 935 at the same point on the way to an impressive 1,875. As of late Tuesday, the entries were up to 553.
This year Circa added a $1,000 winner-take-all Survivor contest (pick one NFL winner a week straight up, can’t use the same team twice, Thanksgiving Day counts as a separate 18th week), also with a $1 million guaranteed first-place prize. As of Tuesday night, it had 229 entries.
Also, the Golden Nugget canceled its $1,000 buy-in Ultimate Football Challenge for this season, as it included the full college football schedule, and William Hill isn’t running its $500 buy-in College Pick-’em contest either.