Column: Las Vegas oddsmakers see L.A. as the city of potential sports champions
Championships are the only currency that matters to Los Angeles sports fans. It’s a city without pity when it comes to disappointment.
Expectations are often greater than they should be in L.A., where reality and fandom don’t mix well. For example, even as the Lakers missed the playoffs the last six seasons many diehards still began each year with championship aspirations. When your team has won 16 titles it’s perhaps understandable to think anyone wearing purple and gold can somehow find a way to win, even if the starting lineup includes Wayne Ellington, Ryan Kelly and Tarik Black.
However, for the first time in a while, the championship expectations of sports fans here align with the oddsmakers in Las Vegas. Six L.A. teams are among the top four betting favorites in their sport. So you’re not going out on a limb if you’re putting your money on Los Angeles celebrating a championship or two over the next year.
Here’s a look at the current odds for each team at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook and my take on how they’ll finish:
Dodgers championship odds: 5/2
The Dodgers have the best record in baseball and are either the favorite or second to the Houston Astros to win the World Series at most sports books. This is familiar territory for the Dodgers, who have advanced to the championship series the last two seasons but haven’t won since 1988.
Prediction: We will see a rematch of the 2017 World Series, but this time Walker Buehler will be on the mound instead of Yu Darvish. The Dodgers will claim their first Series championship in 31 years with Cody Bellinger winning MVP.
Southland baseball fans watched Pirates closer Felipe Vazquez pitch against the Angels this week, getting a firsthand look at what the Dodgers missed out on.
Sparks championship odds: 9/2
The last championship team from Los Angeles is the Sparks and they look ready to claim their second title since 2016 this season. The Sparks are behind the Washington Mystics, Connecticut Sun and the Las Vegas Aces in the eyes of oddsmakers, but they have won five in a row and 11 of 13 after a slow start.
Prediction: The Sparks will defeat the Mystics in the WNBA Finals, with Nneka Ogwumike winning MVP. Derek Fisher will join Michael Cooper as former Lakers champions to lead the Sparks to a title.
LAFC championship odds: 3/2
Coming off a record-setting inaugural season, LAFC has the best record in the league and has been a heavy favorite to win the MLS Cup for most of the year, thanks in large part to Carlos Vela, who leads the league in goals. LAFC is undefeated at Banc of California Stadium, and if they sustain their current pace and win a title, they will go down as one of the best MLS teams ever.
Prediction: LAFC will win the MLS Cup with a victory over Atlanta United FC on a late, game-winning goal from Vela, who will claim MVP honors.
Galaxy championship odds: 16/1
The Galaxy have been right behind their “El Trafico” rivals with the second-best odds for most of the season but have dipped to seventh after losing three straight, two by shutout.
Prediction: Zlatan Ibrahimovic will lead the Galaxy to the conference semifinals before they fall to LAFC for the first time. (Despite their success the last two seasons, LAFC has yet to beat the Galaxy.)
Steve Ballmer wouldn’t have signed Kawhi Leonard or pursued a $1-billion arena project if he had any intentions of relocating the Clippers to Seattle.
Rams championship odds: 12/1
After losing to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LIII, the Rams opened as co-favorites with the Patriots to win Super Bowl LIV. They have since dipped behind the Patriots, Kansas City Chiefs and New Orleans Saints in the eyes of oddsmakers because of questions about Todd Gurley’s health.
Prediction: The Rams defeat the Chiefs in an epic rematch of their Monday Night Football game at the Coliseum last year. Aaron Donald is the MVP as L.A. celebrates its first Super Bowl since the Raiders won in 1984.
Chargers championship odds: 14/1
Though overshadowed here by the Rams, the Chargers’ record since Oct. 2, 2017, is 23-9 compared to 22-8 for the Rams. The Chargers were tied for the best record in the AFC last year at 12-4 and will field one of the most talented teams in the league. That’s why the Chargers’ current odds may be the best value on the board.
Prediction: Melvin Gordon’s holdout bleeds into the season and the Chargers finish behind the Chiefs in the AFC West and lose to them in the AFC Divisional round.
Lakers championship odds: 4/1
The Lakers are either the favorite or right behind the Clippers in the eyes of oddsmakers after a blockbuster summer where they added Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins and Danny Green to round out a potential starting lineup with LeBron James and Kyle Kuzma.
Prediction: After a slow start, the Lakers return to the playoffs for the first time since 2013 and win their first title since 2010. James wins MVP as the Lakers down the Milwaukee Bucks in the NBA Finals.
Clippers championship odds: 7/2
For the first time in franchise history, the Clippers are favorites to win the NBA championship at many sports books, having added Kawhi Leonard and Paul George to the nucleus of Lou Williams, Patrick Beverley, Montrezl Harrell and Landry Shamet that won 48 games last season.
Prediction: The Clippers finish with the best record in the West, but their home court advantage at Staples Center won’t help them much in their first trip to the conference finals as the Lakers take the first postseason “Hallway Series.”
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