Bettors backing long-shot Lakers to make playoffs

Updated July 3, 2017 - 11:13 pm

LaVar Ball has plenty of company in believing the Lakers will make the NBA playoffs next season.

Despite the odds getting longer on Los Angeles to reach the 2017-18 postseason after it failed to acquire All-Star Paul George — who the Indiana Pacers traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder — bettors have continued to back the Lakers at the Westgate sports book.

The odds are minus-1,600 against Los Angeles making the playoffs after it opened at minus-700.

“We doubled the price on the Lakers just because they didn’t get George. They needed someone like him as strong as the West is,” Westgate sports book manager Jeff Sherman said. “We adjusted it to 20-1 (against) and they kept betting them. Out of all the props, the one getting the most support is on the Lakers to make the playoffs.”

The odds are 9-1 that rookie point guard Lonzo Ball will help lead Los Angeles to its first playoff appearance in five years. For the record, there haven’t been any LaVar Ball sightings at the Westgate.

“Maybe it’s his friends, I don’t know,” Sherman said jokingly.

Timberwolves win offseason

Minnesota is a minus-1,000 favorite to make the playoffs after opening at minus-260. The Timberwolves acquired All-Star Jimmy Butler from the Bulls on draft night and have since added former Chicago big man Taj Gibson alongside Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins.

Sherman said Minnesota has improved more than any other team this offseason and thus has ascended to the 20-1 fifth choice to win the Western Conference.

Horn takes books off hook

Social media was in collective shock Saturday night when judges in Australia awarded native son Jeff Horn a controversial unanimous decision over Manny Pacquiao. Bettors at the Wynn, which took multiple six-figure wagers on Pacquiao, also were stunned.

Pacquiao closed as a 7-1 favorite at the Wynn and Horn was a 5-1 underdog. Thanks to the surprising decision, the Wynn and the Westgate sports books won on the fight.

“We did well pretty well on the fight because we had some bets on Pacquiao by knockout and by decision,” Westgate sports book manager John Murray said. “I was shocked when they read the scorecards. I thought Pacquiao had clearly won.”

Musburger first in line

Brent Musburger, the acclaimed sportscaster and VSiN host, was the first contestant to sign up Saturday for the Westgate SuperContest, the country’s most prestigious NFL handicapping contest. The 78-year-old purchased the limit of two $1,500 entries to the contest, in which participants pick five NFL games each week against the spread.

Past SuperContests have included celebrities such as Bill Simmons, The Ringer CEO, and Cousin Sal of “Jimmy Kimmel Live!”

“With Brent being in the contest and publicly acknowledging that, I think we’ll see even more (celebrities),” Westgate sports book director Jay Kornegay said.

Last year’s contest attracted a record 1,854 entries, with Starbucks barista Damon Graham winning the $895,482 grand prize with a 54-28-3 mark (65.9 percent). If entries reach 2,071 this year, the SuperContest will produce its first $1 million winner.

Kornegay said 38 people signed up for the contest on the first day of registration, compared to 18 last year. Only one person signed up for the high-end SuperContest Gold, a new $5,000-entry fee, winner-take-all event that’s limited to one entry per person.

“That’s going to be a more sophisticated player and most of those guys will wait until the last minute to enter,” Kornegay said. “Based on other contests in the same price range, I’m guessing 30 to 50 contestants will be a good range for the first year.”

Six free SuperContest entries will be given away during SuperContest Weekend from Aug. 17 to 19, when VSiN will host its shows live from the Westgate. Raffle tickets for the grand prize of a free SuperContest entry can be earned at the Westgate sports book through Aug. 19.

Dog day

Joey “Jaws” Chestnut is the minus-600 favorite to win the annual Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest on Tuesday in Coney Island, New York, according to online sports book Over 71½ hot dogs is the minus-130 favorite. Hold the mustard.

Contact reporter Todd Dewey at or 702-383-0354. Follow @tdewey33 on Twitter.

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