John P. Lopez – Just a sprinkle: Patience pays in this week’s best bets, plus the Futures is now

Apr 9, 2023; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (6) drives to the basket past Utah Jazz forward Luka Samanic (19) in the first half at Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

John P. Lopez – Just a sprinkle: Patience pays in this week’s best bets, plus the Futures is now

My favorite bets are futures bets

If you’re smart, disciplined, and patient, the value and return for gamblers when making futures bets generally are the best on the board. But of course, not very many gamblers – including myself – like to be patient.

We want it and we want it now. Plus, if you’re like me and plop yourself into a delivered-today Gallery Furniture recliner to watch a game, putting a little sumpin-sumpin on it makes the game that much more interesting. And fun. Sometimes.

This will be a good week to satiate both appetites – those who want instant gratification and those who play smart futures.

Let us commence.


Lakers (minus-8) vs. Timberwolves in Tuesday’s play-in game.

LeBron James may not have a big-time playoff run in him, but he’s got enough to lead a hot team to an easy win over the train-wreck T-Wolves. This may not be the most daring or sexiest of wagers (those will come below), but it’s hard not to like.

Sometimes the obvious play is the right one, and it’s very obvious the Lakers not only are better, but they’re playing some of their best ball and motivated. If you’d like to play it safe, you can play the moneyline, but there isn’t too much value in betting the Lakers minus-330.

I’m not a huge fan of NBA point-spread bets because the dreaded backdoor cover always lingers with a flurry of meaningless late-game buckets. But this time, count on it. While the line has moved from the opening line of minus -6.5, I still like Los Angeles to cover the number. The Timberwolves are in a shambles after Rudy Gobert was sent home from their last game after an on-bench altercation with teammate Kyle Anderson. Gobert was suspended by the T-Wolves on Monday and didn’t travel with the team.

Meanwhile, the Lakers are coming off a win against the Jazz, which was their ninth win out of their last 11 games. LeBron had a huge game, finishing with 36 points, and seems ready to make an early-playoff statement.


Astros money-line vs. Pirates

Remember what I said about patience? The best play on the board in the Astros-Pirates series, which began Monday in Pittsburgh, will be on Getaway Day. You might even get a better money-line value than the minus-180 that was the number on Monday, depending on how the first two games of the series go.

The Pirates are off to a hot start and have some outstanding young talent, while the Astros are not their usual selves, ranking in the bottom 10 in batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage. They have also struck out 88 times in their first 10 games.

While the first two Astros pitchers in the series – Framber Valdez and Christian Javier – are quality and could deliver, the Pirates counter with Roansy Contreras, who entered Monday’s game with a 1.59 ERA, and Mitch Keller, who has 15 strikeouts in two outings.

But on Wednesday, the Astros’ Jose Urquidy counters Rich Hill in an 11:35 a.m. start. The Astros are MONEY in getaway games, winning their last 12 in a row in the regular season. They’re great in day games, too. Plus, while the Astros are off on Thursday and don’t have much leeway to rest any front line players anyway, the Pirates travel to St. Louis right after Wednesday’s game. Pittsburgh figures to rest a starter or two. Plus, Javier will be facing Rich Hill, who seems completely lost on the mound to start the season. Hill gave up three home runs in his last outing and has been tagged for 10 runs and five home runs through nine innings this year.


Phoenix Suns plus-500 to win NBA championship

It’s about value. And the Suns might have the best on the board, considering the run they seem primed to make and the road between them and redeeming themselves for a bitter Western Conference semifinals exit a year ago as the No. 1 seed.

Standing in the way of Phoenix and a trip to the conference finals is the L.A. Clippers in the first round and likely the No. 1-seeded Denver Nuggets. The Clippers hate that they have to face Devin Booker, Deandre Ayton, and the newly-acquired Kevin Durant in the first round. And Denver might be the least-scary No. 1 seed the Western Conference has seen in a long time.

Get to the Conference Finals, and the opponent could be No. 2-seeded Memphis, Sacramento, Golden State, or the rejuvenated Lakers.

Obviously, there are potholes along the way – that’s why they call it gambling – but when you consider the Durant factor and that the NBA’s balance of power leans heaving to the Eastern Conference, I like the Suns’ chances of getting there. And once in the Finals, cross your fingers and hope Durant’s experience and the Suns’ balance of talent leads the way.


Arsenal money-line vs. West Ham in English Premier League

Wait, what? Premier League soccer?

Yes. Don’t sleep on a solid soccer bet, and this definitely is one. Plus, who doesn’t like a little 8 a.m. Sunday morning action to get the day started?

And if it’s all foreign to you, don’t sweat it. I got ya.

Here’s why it’s worth a sprinkle: Arsenal is having a terrific year, but remains locked in a tough fight with Manchester City at the top of the standings. The minus-165 money line would be much less of a value if not for a couple of key injuries on Arsenal’s side that clearly are scaring off bettors.

But don’t be scared. Arsenal is coming off a tough, tough 2-2 draw with Liverpool after leading 2-0 through a good chunk of the match. They’ll be more than motivated to keep Man City at bay, and their scoring ability is just superior.

Meanwhile, West Ham not only is fighting for survival near the bottom of the standings, they’re playing a Wednesday quarterfinal match in the Europa League tournament before Sunday’s game against the Gunners. That’s a lot to ask of a subpar team.

Dip your toe in a little Premier League action. You’ll be glad you did.

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  • thank you for the article

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