Each week TheLines looks ahead to what will likely be the most wagered-on sporting events in the coming days. Here is what’s on tap for the week of Monday, Aug. 24 through Sunday, Aug. 30.
Flyers vs. Islanders: Game 1 (Monday, Aug. 24)
Typically, a one seed versus a six seed wouldn’t be all that interesting of a series. However, with home ice advantage being removed this year, the Flyers and Islanders could make for an excellent series. New York just came off a dominant 4-1 series win over the defending champion Capitals and averaged 3.75 goals in their four wins. Also impressive, the Islanders didn’t squeak out wins– they averaged a 2.5 goal differential in those wins. Philadelphia, on the other hand, was beaten badly in their two losses against Montreal (5-0, 5-3) and averaged just over one goal differential in their wins. Both teams’ defense looked solid, but the Islanders have the offensive firepower to put Philadelphia on upset watch.
Trail Blazers vs. Lakers: Game 4 (Monday, Aug. 24)
After a head-turning Game 1 steal for Portland, LeBron James and the Lakers look to be back on track. Los Angeles took a convincing Game 2 behind a strong performance from Anthony Davis, but only 10 points from a limited-minutes James. Game 3 also went to the Lakers as James and Davis combined for 67 points (Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum combined for 62). With the recent success of Los Angeles, why is this game worth noting? A 2-2 series with the league’s hottest player is a precarious place to be in, whereas a 3-1 lead for the Lakers all but closes the series. There’s more riding on this game than is initially apparent.
Jazz vs. Nuggets: Game 5 (Tuesday, Aug. 25)
Before this series started, it had to be far down the list of potential “Most Interesting Series'”and yet here we are. Utah’s Donovan Mitchell and Denver’s Jamal Murray are putting on nightly shows, trading 50-point games and bringing nearly every game down to the final seconds. In the latest installment, the Jazz took a 3-1 series lead with a thrilling win and a lucrative 101 points from their three guards (Mitchell, Jordan Clarkson, Mike Conley). Denver is one of the league’s best young teams but they’re running out of chances.
Athletics vs. Astros (Friday, Aug. 28 – Sunday, Aug. 30)
It’s a battle for the top of the AL West; at home, both teams have been phenomenal. Although the fan dimension has been removed from 2020, it’s been fascinating to watch the repercussions of the Astros cheating scandal unfold. The A’s have lived up to their preseason expectations and then some, leading not only their division, but the American League at 20-9. This series is about pitching– Houston and Oakland rank third and fourth in the AL in ERA, respectively. Add in some bad blood with division rivals – and the built-in animosity toward the Astros – and this series could get chippy.
BMW Championship (Thursday, Aug. 27 – Sunday, Aug. 30)
The Northern Trust proved to be golfer-friendly this past weekend with fourth-ranked Dustin Johnson coming away with an 11-stroke win and a remarkable score of -30 (PGA tournament record: -33). With it, Johnson jumped to the top of the world golf rankings. Johnson also vaulted himself up to the top of the PGA standings, but will have to face defending-winner Justin Thomas at Olympia Fields (Thomas trails Johnson by 98 and sits second in PGA standings). The BMW Championship is the last tournament before the Tour Championship.