Weekend NBA and MLB Notes

Houston Has Arrived And It's Time To Take Futures Bet On Rockets At Odds Of 13-2 To Win NBA Championship

Preseason World Series Favorites Red Sox And Yankees Are The Biggest Money Destroyers

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By Kelso Sturgeon

There are three obvious facts about the first round of the NBA playoffs - (1) the Houston Rockets are better than ever and have all the tools to win their first championship since 1995, (2) the defending champion Golden State Warriors - 1-2 favorites to grab another title - will not be able to stand the heat without injured forward DeMarcus, and (3) ageless San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich is by far the smartest coach in the NBA and with him in charge he can make it happen. Do not count him out.

This is not to suggest Houston or San Antonio are automatics to advance to the championship round but they certainly candidates to do just that. Again the odds find Houston the third betting choice at 13-2, behind favored Golden State at 1-2 and the Milwaukee Bucks at 9-2 while the Spurs are buried among the longshots at 75-1.

First of all the Rockets, are healthy, have an explosive offense, a lockdown defense when they need it, the most unstoppable player in the NBA (James Harden) and have peaked at the right time. Houston has crushed Utah 118-98 and 122-90 in the first two playoff games (in Houston) marking the first time in Jazz history the team has lost back-to-back post-season games by 20 or more points. The numbers say it all. Houston closed out the regular season a 20-5 run and are now 22-5 in their last 27 games.

From the bettors standpoint, bookmakers have failed to pick up on how much Houston has improved, a fact illustrated by the team's 9-1 ATS record in its last 10 games.

COUSINS FAR MORE IMPORTANT THAN NBA PUNDITS KNOW - POPOVICH IS TO NBA WHAT BEAR BRYANT WAS TO COLLEGE FOOTBALL

Few NBA players are as underrated as Golden State forward DeMarcus Cousins (16.3 points, 8.2 rebounds, 3.6 assists per game). He has made many enemies in the NBA because of his rough play and his big mouth, but remains a superstar that comes to every game focused to give it everything he has. He is out with a quad injury and is unlikely to return this season. Believe me the Warriors need his play and leadership to win the title. Yes, Golden State can still win it, but the Warriors have no business being the 1-2 favorites.

Popovich, head coach of the Spurs for 22 years, lives a plane above the other 29 NBA coaches. Former Georgia once said Alabama football coach Paul Bear Bryant is so superior to other coaches that "he can take his team and beat yours, or take your team and beat his". That's Popovich. Players come and go but he figures out what he has with which to work and molds a winner. There is a reason he has led the Spurs to five NBA championships, been named Coach of the Year three times and has been awarded every single honor the league hands out. Superman!
Just my opinion in a world where the winners keep winning and the losers keep losing.

Saturday's NBA Playoffs Schedule
#3 Philadelphia 76ers (2-1) at #6 Brooklyn Nets (1-2) 3:05 EDT Start...On TNT
#2 Denver Nuggets (0-2) at #7 San Antonio Spurs (2-0) 5:35 EDT Start...On TNT
#1 Milwaukee Bucks (2-0) at #8 Detroit Pistons 8:05 Start...On ESPN
#4 Houston Rockets (2-0) at #5 Utah Jazz (0-2) 10:35 EDT Start...On ESPN

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BET ON RED SOX AND LOSE A FORTUNE - BET AGAINST RED SOX AND WIN A FORTUNE

The Boston Red Sox (6-13) are the defending World Series champions but currently in last place in the American League East but that is only part of the shocking story. If ever there was an example of bookmakers and bettors stuck in the past, this is it. Boston has been favored in 18 of its 19 games and is the biggest money-destroyer in Major League Baseball.

Had one bet at the $100-unit level on all 19 Boston games, that individual has lost $1,540. Those living in the real world, and understanding the Red Sox are not yet quite what they were last season, and have bet against them in the 19 games, have won $1,410.

This is just a reminder one must always bet in the present. For the most part, what happened last year means little to what is happening now.

For instance, the Tampa Bay Rays (14-5) are the surprise leader in the American League East and have turned a profit of $650. The Seattle Mariners (14-8) are the biggest money winners thus far, showing a profit of $780.

Other big money losers are the Yankees (8-1) at -$1,130 while the helpless Miami Marlins (4-14) check in with a loss of $930.