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Weekend Cross Sport Specials
The Cavs face the Heat for the second time in 3 nights, while Real Madrid and Liverpool prepare for their second leg in the Champions League with what should be easy wins. We preview these games and more, but before that, you can head to our Cross Sport Specials page to check out some other offers we have.
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Liverpool (vs Bournemouth) & Philadelphia Sixers (vs Portland Trail Blazers) to both win @1.85
The last time these two sides met, Liverpool scored 9 unreplied goals as then manager, Scott Parker, paid the ultimate prize for the humiliating loss with his job. This time around, things don’t look like they might be any better for the Cherries, but surely, it can’t get worse than a 9-0 loss. Liverpool’s attack has grabbed all the headlines following their 7-0 demolition of Man Utd and, perhaps, rightly so. Mo Salah, Darwin Núñez & Cody Gakpo each grabbed a brace with Bobby Firmino coming off the bench to add a 7th. However, their defense, which has kept 5 consecutive clean sheets in the Premier League (as many as it had in the previous 24 games combined), has equally been key to their turnaround. Against a Bournemouth whom they have beaten in 9 of 11 league meetings (D1, L1), including the last 7 in a row by an aggregate scoreline of 28-1, it’s hard to see past a Liverpool win as they continue their surge up the table.
In the NBA, the Trail Blazers continue their trip around the Eastern Conference when they head to Philadelphia to face the Sixers. So far, the trip hasn’t exactly been a successful one, with 3 losses in 4 – the most recent, a 115 – 93 loss to the Celtics. Despite having one of the best Point Guards in the league in Dame Lillard, the Blazers still find themselves 3rd from bottom in the Western Conference and could miss out on the playoffs. Lillard recently set the franchise record for most points scored with his 71 points in the win against the Rockets, as he became only the 8th player in NBA history to get 70+ points in a game. But, the team looks borderline average when he is off the floor – something opponents have repeatedly capitalized on. Against a Sixers team that are 3rd in the East with a 7-3 record in their last 10, led by MVP candidate Joel Embiid, the Trail Blazers have a very slim chance of winning this.
Bayern Munich (vs Augsburg) & Cleveland Cavalier (vs Miami Heat) to both win @2.14
Bayern showed their superiority with a 2-0 win over PSG on Wednesday, and you wouldn’t be mistaking if you felt the scoreline flattered the French side. The Bavarian’s quality off the bench was the deciding factor, with Serge Gnabry, Leroy Sané, João Cancelo and Sadio Mané all coming in as subs to put the game out of reach for PSG. Mané may not have gotten on the scoresheet, but, in his cameo, he showed it was just a matter of time before he rediscovers his form before the World Cup. Since coming back from injury, he has come off the bench in 3 consecutive games, with all 3 ending in victories. Perhaps, we could see him get his first start. One player to keep an eye out for is Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, who scored the winner against PSG. All 10 Bundesliga goals for the Cameroonian this season have come since Match day 10 and no player has had more goals in that period.
Augsburg won’t go down easily, though. They are looking to become the first team since Dortmund and Borussia Mönchengladbach in 2011/12 to do a league double over Bayern, following their 1-0 victory when these two sides met in the WWK Arena earlier this season. However, their struggles on the road could be a problem for them. Enrico Maaßen’s side has won all four of their home games in 2023, but also lost all four on the road. No team has a larger home-away discrepancy (12 points).
In the NBA, the Heat host the Cavs in Miami. These two sides face each other for the 2nd time in 3 nights, with the Cavs winning the first meeting 104 – 100. The Heat are having a poor season by their standards, and it seems Erik Spoelstra’s magnificent coaching is the one thing keeping them from a total collapse. Despite having all-star caliber players in Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo, they’re 3-7 in their last 10 games, and things don’t look like they’re about to get any better for the 3-time champions. Their fall from the #1 seed last year to #7 is a significant drop, and the Cavs – who rank #9 in Offensive Rating this season and #1 in Defensive Rating – will want to take advantage of this again. Admittedly, it’s tough to beat Miami twice in a row, but Cavs got their first win with little scoring help from lead scorer, Donovan Mitchell, who only put up 18 points. This time around, he’ll want at least 30.
Real Madrid (vs Espanyol) & Los Angeles Lakers (vs Toronto Raptors) to both win @2.50
Real Madrid will have their sights set on a red-hot Liverpool team for the 2nd leg of their Champions League tie, but first, they host Espanyol in LaLiga. The reigning champions can feel the league title slipping from their grasp after dropping 7 out of a possible 15 points in their last 5 games. They currently lie 9 pts off the top spot and are now closer to neighbors, Atlético (8 pts), than they are to 1st place Barcelona. Ahead of Saturday’s game, they’re well aware that failure is not an option. In Espanyol, Madrid have the perfect opponent if they want to get their groove back. Los Blancos have beaten Espanyol 106 times, while scoring 387 goals in the process – both of those being their most against a single opponent in the competition’s history. They’ve won 15 of 17 games against the visitors (D2) in LaLiga and are averaging 2.9 goals against them at home in the league in their last 8 games. Though Madrid have struggled for consistency in the league, but this should be a win for Carlo Ancelotti and his boys.
In the NBA, Raptors’ Point Guard, Fred VanVleet, didn’t hold back on Wednesday when talking about referee Ben Taylor. The 2019 NBA Champion went on a rant about the officiating and Taylor’s poor management of games, including giving him a Technical Foul that he felt was far from deserved. VanVleet used up so many colorful words, you would have thought he swallowed a box of crayons prior to the interview, and the NBA wasted no time in handing him a $30,000 fine. While this is now “in the past”, I wouldn’t put it past some of Ben Taylor’s colleagues to want to punish VanVleet and the Raptors after the public humiliation of one of their own. Perhaps this is the best time to best against the Raptors.
Referee business aside, the Lakers have looked impressive lately, despite the loss of LeBron James. They’ve won 7 of their last 10 games and at 9th position, they’re within touching distance of a playoff spot. One major key to the Lakers’ fine form is Anthony Davis. The 8-time All Star is having a bad shooting year but is dominating the paint a lot more and reaping the rewards. In his last 5 games, he’s averaging 33 points, 13.8 rebounds and 1.8 blocks. At home to the Raptors, a similar output should be enough to get them a win.
Barcelona (vs Athletic Bilbao) & Nikita Krylov (vs Ryan Spann) to both win @3.80
Barcelona will prepare for next weekend’s El Clásico with a trip to San Mames to face Bilbao. Injuries to key attackers for the Catalans has seen their games feature few goals, with 4 of the last 7 ending in a 1-0 scoreline. Regardless, they’ve opened up a 9 point lead at the top of the table and are now heavy favorites to win the league, baring a catastrophic collapse. The league leaders have done well on their trips to the Basque Country, with 8 wins and 3 draws in their last 11 visits. Bilbao are winless in 6 LaLiga games against Barcelona (D1, L5) since their 1-0 victory back in August 2019 and are heavy underdogs in this game. The Catalans haven’t lost consecutive away LaLiga games since October 2021 and following their 1-0 to Almeria the last time they were on the road, they’ll be doing everything to secure an important win ahead of next weekend’s big game.
In MMA, Ukraine’s Nikita Krylov faces USA’s Ryan Spann in UFC 221. This fight, originally scheduled for the 26th of the previous month, had to be postponed due to Krylov’s sudden illness, which he blamed on the eggs he had consumed before the bout. However, this time around, both fighters are healthy and ready to compete with no eggs in sight. The event will still take place in Las Vegas, but the venue has changed to The Theater at Virgin Hotels, where more fans will be present to witness the action. Although Krylov will no longer be facing Spann in the main event, resulting in 10 fewer minutes of fighting if the match goes the distance, both fighters will compete at a weight of 215 pounds, instead of cutting down to the usual weight of 205 pounds, to allow for a quick turnaround in scheduling.
The knockout delivered by Spann to Reyes is a cause for concern for all competitors in the division, given that it resulted from a simple jab that rendered Reyes unconscious. So, even though Krylov has only suffered one knockout in his career, which occurred a long time ago in 2013, he will be mindful of Spann’s punching power. While Spann has an advantage in height and reach, Krylov has a significant edge in experience and a well-rounded skill set, particularly in grappling. If Krylov chooses to clinch, wrestle, or take the fight to the ground, Spann may experience a decline in his energy levels and therefore may not be as much of a threat in the first two rounds. However, if Krylov does not employ these tactics, Spann is expected to pose a significant challenge. The longer this fight goes on, the better for Krylov. He knows this and would deploy this strategy this weekend.
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