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This week is sneaky big in the sports world. You have post-deadline NBA teams looking to shape into their post-season form. You have pre-deadline NHL teams trying to position themselves for the stretch run toward the cup. Pair that with a big UFC card this weekend, and you have yourselves a hell of a week. Instead of touching each sport individually, I’ll be making notes about all three of them this week. Per usual, any odds that are listed are brought to you by our friends at mybookie.ag. Let’s get the party started.
As we are hours before the trade deadline, many teams are frantically buying and selling to put themselves in the position to make a run toward the cup. Kevin Shattenkirk moved Tuesday to help bolster Washington’s defense, and a bizarre trade sent Ben Bishop to the Kings where they already have a top flight goalie. Regardless of particulars, this time in the NHL gets incredibly interesting. Two teams to watch this week are the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Chicago Blackhawks.
If you’re a hockey fan, you know what the Blackhawks are all about. They’ve won nine of their last ten, and seem to be shaping into the usual dominant team with Toews stepping up as of late. They have Pittsburgh and the Islanders at home, with Nashville on the road this week. They should be favored in all games, with the spread being a goal and a half, possibly just a goal against Pittsburgh. Similar to the Jackets, look for them to take two of three and you’ll be in the money.
The trade deadline has come and gone, and aside from Boogie Cousins moving from the dumpster fire that is the Sacramento Kings, the marquee names (Jimmy Butler, Blake Griffin, Carmelo Anthony) stayed put. Speaking of Boogie, he recorded his 18th technical of the season and is suspended for New Orleans’ game Wednesday at home against the Pistons. Expect the Pelicans to win this game. I didn’t initially like the combination of Cousins and Davis, and while chemistry is obviously an issue thus far, it still may get worse before it gets better when Boogie gets back on the court. With him off the floor as a distraction, the Pelicans will settle down and beat an aggressively mediocre Pistons team. From an entertainment standpoint, two of the East’s top four team square off twice this week, in Washington and Toronto essentially having a home at home.
While I wouldn’t touch these bets now, they are going to be vital in how you bet come playoff time. Ibaka has seemingly reignited the Raptors, who were on a definite downswing prior to the deadline. Whatever the points or the money line is, take Cleveland over Miami on Saturday night. LeBron puts on a show every time he travels to a former team, so expect a big Cleveland win and LBJ taking home a triple-double.
I’d like to take a little time to look at a futures bet in the NBA. This year’s MVP race is going to be one of the more interesting that we’ve had. I’m on record this year, tweeting out pre-season, that Russell Westbrook was going to average a triple double for the season and win the MVP.
Your boy has been right, and based on the odds, him and James Harden are even to win the award. James Harden has had a ridiculous year and his team has produced more, but you can’t vote against Brodie if he averages a triple double for an entire season and leads his sub-par team to the playoffs. You just can’t do it.
UFC 209 is this weekend from Las Vegas, Nevada, and has a number of intriguing matchups. It’s headlined by Stephen Thompson (-150) and Tyron Woodley (+130) for the Welterweight Title. This is a rematch of an incredible fight that ended in a majority draw at UFC 205. When you watch that fight, it is incredibly surprising to me that Woodley is the dog. I’ll be honest, I hate Woodley as a human being, but the guy has tremendous power and can wrestle his ass off. Thompson is a great talent, but I don’t see him being able to stop Woodley’s wrestling in this fight, based on his previous performance. I’ll take the underdog champion to retain his title.
The co-main event is Khabib Nurmagomedov (-185) against Tony Ferguson (+155). Tony is an unorthodox striker who uses awkward angles and movement to land his shots, and can submit anyone in the world with his chokes. With that said, Khabib is an absolute savage. He ragdolls fighters, and talks shit to them while he does it. I wouldn’t bet on this fight, because so many different things can happen with Ferguson in the cage, but gun to my head I’m picking Khabib. If nothing else, the winner of this has a chance to fight Conor McGregor next, and I would love to break that fight down. A few other fights to watch are Alistair Overeem (-135) against Mark Hunt (+115), and Rashad Evans’ (-195) middle weight debut against Aussie Dan Kelly (+165). The UFC is giving Rashad this fight as a tune up, and I expect him to roll in his new weight class. Overeem has looked like an animal in his last handful of fights, even in his loss against champion Stipe Miocic. He was able to hurt Stipe with a number of shots, and was extremely competitive throughout. Aside from that, he KO’d Junior Dos Santos and Andrei Arlovski, and looked fantastic doing it. He may be of the Mexican supplements (allegedly), but his superior technique should be enough to take out the ferocious power of Mark Hunt..
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