Each week TheLines previews the week ahead for the sports bettor. Here is the lookahead for Monday, Sept. 14 through Sunday, Sept. 20.
MLB: Twins vs. White Sox (Monday, September 14 – Thursday, September 17)
There’s a tight race atop the AL Central and these two teams are hot (both are 8-2 in their last 10). Chicago has catapulted to the top of the AL standings, but Minnesota won its last series in Minneapolis two games to one. The difference in this series will be the location– the White Sox have the home field this time around and the Twins have a losing 9-13 record on the road (the only team with a sub-.500 record and under 20 losses). The Sox currently have a one-game advantage on the Twins for the division and are looking to widen their lead this week.
Nuggets vs. Clippers: Game 7 (Tuesday, September 15)
The two best words in sports: Game Seven. Jamal Murray, Nikola Jokic, and crew refused to go out quietly against Kawhi Leonard’s Clippers. Down 3-1, Denver was called dead in the water and yet, here we are. Los Angeles (-7) is favored and is looking to stave off the fourth 3-1 Conference Finals comeback in NBA history. Something that’s never been done, however, is overcoming not one but two 3-1 deficits in the same postseason. That’s what the Nuggets will be attempting to do. The winner earns a dance with LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and the Lakers in the Western Conference Finals.
ALSO READ: NBA Playoffs odds, sportsbook comparisons
Heat vs. Celtics: Game 1 (Tuesday, September 15)
On the other side of the bracket is the start to the Eastern Conference Finals. Miami has been the NBA’s hottest team, tearing through the Pacers in four games, and Giannis and the top-seeded Bucks in just five games. They’ve shown to be the most complete team and create half a dozen matchup issues for just about every team they’ve seen. FanDuel Sportsbook lists the Celtics as 1.5-point favorites in the opening game and -140 favorites for the series. The key to these conference finals will come down to team defense and closing passing lanes, as both teams are nearly unstoppable when multiple guys begin firing. Also interesting to watch: this is the first ECF that features neither a one or a two seed since the current conference format was adopted (1970).
Bengals at Browns (Thursday, September 17)
The battle of Ohio and a clash between No. 1 overall picks. No matter how you spin it, this game has some intriguing storylines behind it. Both teams had rough Week 1s in different ways – the Browns were dusted 38-6 by Baltimore, and the Bengals shanked a 31-yard gimme field goal for a tie. The Browns (-6) are favored in this one, but Joe Burrow looked like he had some game in Cincinnati’s season opener against a fierce Chargers defense. Cleveland’s top pick and starting left tackle Jedrick Wills is undergoing an MRI after injuring his leg Sunday and his status could play a major role in the outcome of this Thursday nighter. Baker Mayfield is looking to right the ship after an uninspiring Week 1 offensive performance.
PGA: US Open (Thursday, September 17 – Sunday, September 20)
Hope you weren’t looking for a break in the PGA action after the Tour Championship; the 2020-21 season is already underway with the US Open at Winged Foot (New York). The field has some of the biggest names in golf, including number-one ranked Dustin Johnson (+800 to win), Rory McIlroy (+1200), Bryson DeChambeau (+1400), Justin Thomas (+1400), Tiger Woods (+2800), and others. In 2019, Gary Woodland (+8000) came out of nowhere and edged favorite Brooks Koepka (+600). Johnson won two of the last three tournaments he played in including the Tour Championship to claim the title and the world’s top ranking.
ALSO READ: Golf Power Rankings ahead of 2020 US Open
No. 17 Miami at No. 18 Louisville (Saturday, September 19)
Both teams came out in their season opener and got the job done against solid Group of Five opponents. The Hurricanes took on UAB and held a slim lead until newcomer D’Eriq King broke the game open in the third quarter with electric scrambles and money throws. Louisville looked like it was going to give up the game when WKU brought the game within two scores in the fourth, but ultimately sealed it. College GameDay is visiting Louisville for the only matchup between ranked opponents this week. Louisville is currently favored by 2.5 at FanDuel, but that line has already changed since first opening. This one should bring fireworks and make for an interesting watch.