From the time the NBA Finals finish to the time preseason football starts, it’s supposed to be a quiet time in the sports world with just baseball going, especially in an odd numbered year when there is no World Cup or EuroCup being played.
But that’s not the case this year when last week we had a potpourri of stories in the sports world ranging from Aaron Hernandez being charged with first degree murder, Dwight Howard saying through the media he doesn’t want to play for the Lakers, UNLV’s Anthony Bennett being drafted No. 1 overall by the Cavaliers, The Celtics packaging their aging stars to the Nets.
And then mixed in between it all is the Pittsburgh Pirates reeling off a nine-game win streak to claim the best record in baseball at the halfway point.
Whether the stories are played out on the field, draft room, court room or simply just rumors floating around, they all have an impact with how Las Vegas sports books offer odds on the teams related to those matters. Let’s take a look at how some of the books reacted to all the news.
Trouble in New England: Even before Hernandez was arrested and then released by the Patriots last Wednesday, the sports books across the city were making minor adjustments on New England as a precautionary move against public perception.
Obviously the Patriots are less imposing without Hernandez, and especially with Rob Gronkowski expected not to be ready for the season opener. Their tight-end role has been a huge part of their offensive plan the past three seasons, and each will be hard to replace.
The LVH Super Book reacted quickly by immediately moving the Broncos to the lone favorite to win the Super Bowl at 9-2, while moving the Patriots from 5-1 up to 6-1 – the 49ers stayed at 5-1. Their odds to win the AFC East went from 1-7 down to 1-6, while the Dolphins moved from 6-1 down to 5-1.
The LVH also moved the money on the Patriots season win total from 11.5 UNDER -150 to -170, but moved it back to -150 after all the dust had settled and no bettors showed an interest.
The one area bettors actually showed an interest in was the Week 2 home game against the Jets, where the Patriots had been a 12-point favorite. After the news of Hernandez’s involvement came out, the LVH moved it to -11, and then some Jets money came in at +11 and pushed it down to 10.
LVH Super Book vice-president Jay Kornegay told the Linemakers on Sporting News he’s not so sure Hernandez being gone will be that big of a deal.
“The combination of Gronkowski missing time early and now not having Hernandez doesn’t make them as imposing of an offense, but the duo missed quite a few games last season and they still won 12 games,” added Kornegay. “Remember, this is only June, and the Patriots have a lot of time to react, and what it will mean is that several of the new and younger players are going to have to step up, and it seems the Brady-Belichick model has always been able to maximize any talent around them.”
Exciting NBA Draft Week: Dwight Howard kicked off the draft week with another page from his Orlando days where he talks openly with a reporter, but is never actually quoted, making it a rumor that he doesn’t refute.
This time, he doesn’t want to play for the Lakers in the 2013-14 season and apparently has his eyes set on Houston or Dallas, where his offensive talents – hold the jokes – can be fully utilized. Even though the deal hasn’t been made, the LVH dropped the Lakers odds to win next year’s title from 25-1 to 40-1, while the odds on the Rockets went from 25-1 to 15-1.
On draft day, the Celtics traded away Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to the Nets for the equivalent of a box of chewing gum and a year’s supply of Pepsi, prompting the odds to move rapidly for each team. Before the trade, the Celtics were 60-1 and the Nets 40-1 to win the title.
After the one-sided deal, the Celtics are now 100-1 and the Nets 15-1. Brooklyn is now considered equal to Indiana at 7-1 to win the East, just behind the Heat (5-7) and Bulls (5-2).
There was no impact player in the draft to make any consideration for changing odds on a team, but William Hill sports books capitalized on the local flavor of Bennett being drafted No. 1 by offering two Cavaliers propositions for next season.
Cleveland had 24 wins a year ago with Kyrie Irving participating in only 59 games. The combination of expecting Irving to play more games and adding Bennett helped William Hill post a season win total of 31.5 games. They also offered a YES-NO prop on whether or not the Cavs would make the playoffs with “NO” being a strong -700 favorite and “YES” being +500.
Milwaukee making the playoffs as an eighth seed with a losing record (38-44) and the Celtics figuring to be much worse, it would appear there are two playoff positions available for grabs in the East with only the Wizards appearing to be on the upswing. OVER 31.5 and “YES” on the prop might offer some value.
Everything rests on Irving more than Bennett, and his third year should see him blossom in the NBA, if he can stay healthy, of course. William Hill’s Jimmy Vaccaro says we can expect season win totals on the remaining teams by mid-September.
Bucs battling for respect: You could understand the skepticism bettors and sports books might have with the Pirates, who are currently in the midst of a nine-game winning streak and have baseball’s best record at 51-30.
The Bucs have been in similar situations the past two seasons and faded in spectacular fashion once August hit. But their current run has got the sports books attention and they have moved them up the board as real contenders. Last week, they were 25-1 to win the World Series. This week they’re 15-1.
Pittsburgh has all the makings of a playoff contender with baseball’s lowest ERA (3.11) and a team that has just started to hit the ball. They’ve compiled 51 wins and their one star, Andrew McCutchen, hasn’t even gotten hot yet.
Another consideration is they could play .500 the rest of the way and likely still qualify for one of the wild cards. Remember, it’s easier than ever to make the playoffs after adding an additional wild card spot last season. One betting note to keep in mind on Tuesday: the Bucs have gone 9-0 this season coming off a scheduled day off.
SuperContest open for business: The most prestigious sports handicapping tournament in the world began taking entries on Monday in what should be the fourth consecutive season of record breaking entries this year for the LVH SuperContest.
A $1,500 entry fee gives handicappers a chance to show they are the elite of the elite at picking pro football games against the point-spread. Last year’s champion was the first woman to win the SuperContest, taking home the top prize of $447,000.
All entry fees are returned as prize money to the top-30 finishers. If you can’t pony up $1,500, you can still have a chance at getting in by winning one of four free entries to be raffled off. To get raffle tickets and participate, you simply have to make a wager at the LVH Super Book.
Micah Roberts is a former Las Vegas race and sports book director, and longtime motorsports columnist and sports analyst at GamingToday. Follow Micah on Twitter @MicahRoberts7 Contact Micah at [email protected].