Sports betting winners and losers: Toronto Raptors might be a threat to repeat

Frank Schwab
·6-min read

The Toronto Raptors aren’t going away quietly, even without Kawhi Leonard.

If there has been a statement game so far from the Disney bubble, it happened Saturday night. The Raptors closed as a 2.5-point underdog to the Los Angeles Lakers at BetMGM, and beat the Lakers by 15. They outscored the Lakers 66-48 in the second half. The 107-92 win was impressive, especially after the Lakers beat the Los Angeles Clippers on the opening night of the restart.

Toronto’s win shouldn’t be dismissed, since it’s a continuation of their fine play from earlier this year. The Raptors were one of the NBA’s best teams before the stoppage, and they haven’t lost momentum it seems. Toronto had a 15-game win streak and won 17 of 18 shortly before the season stopped. While the early NBA results from Orlando might be a bit wonky, since teams haven’t played games that counted in a long time and seeding among the playoff locks won’t mean as much as usual, Toronto’s win was still worth noting.

The Milwaukee Bucks haven’t blown anyone away yet. They needed a controversial overturned charging call on Giannis Antetokounmpo in the opener to outlast the Boston Celtics and then lost to the Houston Rockets on Sunday night. The Celtics, Philadelphia 76ers and basically everyone else in the East isn’t too scary either. The Raptors beat another East contender, the Miami Heat, on Monday.

Toronto is still +1600 to win the title and +550 to win the Eastern Conference at BetMGM, and both look like good values amid the Bucks/Lakers/Clippers hype.

Toronto Raptors' Fred VanVleet (23) drives into Los Angeles Lakers' Alex Caruso (4) in Toronto's win last week. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis, Pool)
Toronto Raptors' Fred VanVleet (23) drives into Los Angeles Lakers' Alex Caruso (4) in Toronto's win last week. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis, Pool)

Here are some other winners and losers from last week on the sports betting scene:

WINNERS

Aaron Judge: Judge has proven he’s healthy and is on fire for the New York Yankees. He leads MLB with six home runs and 14 RBI. That has dropped his odds to win AL MVP at BetMGM to +500. There still might be some value in those odds.

Normally it wouldn’t matter who leads MLB in homers and RBI after a couple weeks, but it does this season. And Judge is a known commodity; we’re not talking about Colin Moran or Donovan Solano being off to hot starts. We know Judge can do this over a long stretch, and if he does it’ll get attention from voters. The Yankees are 7-1 and Judge is killing the ball. Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels is still the MVP favorite at +300 and it’s always tough to go against him, but there’s a reason Judge’s odds fell over a hot weekend. He has got a nice head start.

Colorado Rockies: As noted in looking at some trends from Major League Baseball last week, the Rockies have been fantastic for bettors this season. The 6-2 Rockies woke up Monday in first place of the National League West, ahead of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Of the Rockies’ six wins, five have come as underdogs and the sixth was as a pick ’em. The Rockies took the weekend series against a hot San Diego Padres team, including a win as a +105 underdog on Sunday. The Rockies also look like they could be a good run line team: Their two losses were in one-run games, and they have won by two runs in five of six games.

The Rockies are pitching well, allowing just 24 runs in eight games, and they have elite hitters. The bullpen has some injuries and that could catch up to them, but so far the Rockies look like a team to back in this short sprint of a season.

Houston Rockets: The Rockets might argue against the notion that the Raptors had the signature win of the NBA’s first week back.

On Sunday night the Rockets knocked off the Bucks as 5-point underdogs, winning 120-116. That came after a crazy 153-149 overtime win over the Dallas Mavericks. The Rockets were 1-point underdogs against Dallas (who might be overvalued; the Mavs lost straight up as 6-point favorites to the Phoenix Suns on Sunday night).

The free-wheeling Rockets are fun to watch — though the Bucks game went under the total of 243.5 — and to this point Houston has been an underdog in both games despite a 42-24 record. Beating the Bucks, who got big games from Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton and Brook Lopez, was telling. The Rockets play Portland on Tuesday, and it should be interesting to see how big of an underdog they are against the Lakers on Thursday.

LOSERS

Boston Red Sox: If you bet the under on the Red Sox season win total at 31.5 at BetMGM, you’re feeling pretty good.

The Red Sox are a mess. They’re 3-7 and were swept by the Yankees over the weekend, losing each game by two or more runs. Pitching is a big problem. Chris Sale is done for the season after Tommy John surgery and Eduardo Rodriguez was shut down due to a heart issue related to COVID-19. The Red Sox have a team ERA of 5.79, worst in the majors. That ERA is not unlucky, either. Their FIP (field independent pitching) is 5.46, second worst in MLB. Facing the NL and AL East won’t provide many easy games, so the Red Sox might be in for a long season.

Aaron Judge and the Yankees swept the Red Sox over the weekend. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
Aaron Judge and the Yankees swept the Red Sox over the weekend. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

Anyone fading the Baltimore Orioles: The Rockies aren’t MLB’s most profitable team on the moneyline this season. That would be the surprising Orioles, who are 5-3 and big underdogs just about every time they play.

The Orioles have been hitting the ball well. They’re fifth in MLB in slugging percentage through Sunday’s games. The pitching hasn’t been great, and the Orioles are unlikely to finish the season above .500, but while the bats are hot they could continue to turn a profit because they’ll continue to be big underdogs in plenty of games.

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