Each week TheLines looks at the five biggest betting storylines for the days ahead. Here is a look at what’s on tap for the week of Monday, Aug. 10 through Sunday, Aug. 16.
NBA: Raptors vs. Bucks (Monday, Aug. 10)
The Bucks might have secured the Eastern Conference’s top seed already but that doesn’t take much of the intrigue away from this heavyweight matchup. Giannis Antetokounmpo is one of just four players in the bubble averaging at least 30 points and 10 rebounds and is dotting the “i” on his MVP-caliber season. The Raptors have been the surprise of the season, following up their championship campaign with another impressive stretch despite losing Kawhi Leonard. Either team could make a run at the title, and this could very well be a preview of the Eastern Conference Finals.
Stanley Cup Playoffs: Round 1 (Beginning Tuesday, Aug. 11)
After a week of intense qualifiers, the standard Stanley Cup Playoff bracket is set. Top-ranked Vegas (+600) and Philadelphia (+600) sit as the favorites to take a highly-contested Stanley Cup, followed by Colorado (+625), Boston (+700) and Tampa Bay (+700). The Golden Knights went 3-0 in round robin games, scoring at least four goals every game and taking down 2-seed Colorado in overtime. The NHL boasts one of the best postseasons in major American sports, and this year should be no different. It’s the first playoff format since the COVID-19 outbreak halted sports, which should add extra intrigue. Let the mayhem begin.
‘MLS is Back’ tournament finals: Portland vs. Orlando (Tuesday, Aug. 11)
And then there were 2. Portland and Orlando are each seeking their first MLS title and will have the opportunity Tuesday. Orlando (+2800 opening odds to win tournament) eliminated favorite LAFC (+350) in the quarterfinals, and Minnesota (+2200) in the semifinals last week. Portland defeated Philadelphia (+1400) and NYFC (+1600) en route to its championship berth. The game itself is a toss-up, with Orlando (+149) holding a slight edge over Portland (+156, draw +246). Over the past five seasons, Orlando holds the series 3-1-1 but has to deal with Portland’s head coach Giovanni Savarese, who is making his sixth final appearance in eight seasons.
NBA: Mavericks vs. Suns (Thursday, Aug. 13)
The Suns were on the outside looking in and were lucky they were invited to Orlando at all. Since arriving at the bubble, though, Phoenix has gone nuclear – winning their first five games behind Devin Booker’s heroics. Now the Suns are in great position to take the 8-seed as they are only two games behind the Grizzlies – who face the top three teams in the East down the stretch. Luka Doncic is playing out of his mind, making the Suns’ road to the NBA playoffs one worth watching.
UFC 252: Miocic vs Cormier 3 (Saturday, Aug. 15)
The first two bouts between Stipe Miocic and Daniel Cormier had no shortage of action with each fighter taking a match. Cormier dominated the first heavyweight match, knocking out Miocic in the first round in July 2018. Miocic came back in August 2019 and won via a fourth-round KO to reclaim the belt. Now, the two are fighting each other for what will likely be the final time. Take your pick here: there’s no favorite (-110) in this match. The winner is on track to solidify themselves as one of the greatest heavyweight fighters in UFC history.