It’s a sign of the times that the sport that has got Australia’s attention this week is basketball, with the 2017 NBA Finals beginning in Oakland, California on Friday morning Australian time.
Even as recently as 10 years ago, America’s NBA garnered little more than a brief footnote in the sports section of the paper, and even that only occurred if an Australian was doing well.
The explosion in sports betting and increased access to games has changed all that.
The NBA now rivals the AFL and NRL in terms of betting turnover, while the NBA League Pass has its biggest market in Australia, where most games are held between mid-morning and mid-afternoon our time.
It also helps that this season we had a record number of Aussies in the league, with eight plying their trade in the NBA.
Matthew Dellavedova became the sixth Australian to lift the Larry O’Brien championship trophy last year, and while there will not be a seventh this time around, we can lay half a claim to Kyrie Irving, who was born in Melbourne.
In Australian markets, the team that ‘Delly’ helped win last year’s title – the Cleveland Cavaliers – is a $3.20 (+220) outsider to beat Golden State ($1.36 or -278) when the teams meet in the Finals for the third consecutive year.
Cricket’s Champions Trophy begins in England this week, the second-biggest one-day international tournament on the calendar. Australia is second favorite at $4 (+300) to lift the title for a third time, with the home side England the $3.75 (+275) favorite.
Australia’s first match is against New Zealand on Friday.
Back on home soil, the AFL season is almost at its halfway point. This weekend sees the first of three bye rounds, but there’ll be no shortage of quality, especially in Friday’s match which is the match of the round, between the Geelong Cats and the Adelaide Crows.
The Crows haven’t won down at Geelong in 14 years but go into that crucial match as favorites.
The Rugby League world was dominated by State of Origin this week, but the NRL show goes on with many of the stars from the representative games backing up for their clubs just a few days later.
The highlight of NRL Round 13 is the match between the Sydney Roosters, who are $1.65 (-154) to beat the Brisbane Broncos ($2.18/+118).
There’s been a bit of controversy in the horse racing world this week with the remainder of the Brisbane carnival moved away from Eagle Farm to the Doomben track because of track safety concerns.
This weekend’s Group 1 Queensland Oaks has been shortened by 200m to 2200m with just five days’ notice. The favorite is currently Egg Tart at $2.80 (+180).