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Luka Doncic

Welcome to the Pennsylvania Sports Betting Brief for NBA All-Star Weekend. In this column, we’ll review some recent sports betting news in the Keystone State and spotlight some potentially advantageous betting opportunities for the NBA’s All-Star Game this coming Sunday as well.

Pennsylvania‘s NBA team continued the burgeoning trend of the intertwining of sports betting and professional sports franchises by forging a pact with one of the leading regulated online sportsbooks in the industry. We’ll delve further into the details and also look at how popular the XFL’s debut slate of regular-season games last weekend was with Keystone State bettors. Then, with the NBA All-Star Game upon us, we’ll touch on some intriguing wagers at three different Pennsylvania sportsbooks.

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Pennsylvania Sports Betting Industry News

76ers, DraftKings Strike Multi-Year Partnership

What once was taboo has become commonplace. That could apply to plenty of different subjects these days. In the sports betting context, it’s exemplified by increasing number of partnerships between gaming entities and the sports teams they offer wagers on. Thursday, the Philadelphia 76ers and DraftKings announced an expanded marketing pact that makes DK the exclusive daily fantasy, sports betting and online casino partner of the franchise. The agreement allows DK the use of official team marks, logos and various branding options. There will also reportedly be a “Court of Dreams” excursion made available for VIPs through the partnership. That will include an all-access look at the team’s training complex.

The Sixers-DK deal is the latest for the team, which was a pioneering NBA franchise with respect to embracing real-money-based sports gaming. The 76ers became the first team to host a private DraftKings DFS contest back in March 2015. That also made them the first to offer team-branded prizes to winners of select contests offered by the industry-leading operator.

More recently, Philadelphia forged a partnership with FOX Bet in November that made the latter the first online sports betting brand to enter into an agreement with an NBA team. A month prior, the Sixers had also entered a multi-year agreement with Parx Casino that made the operator the “Official Winning Partner” of the club.

XFL A Popular Bet With PA Bettors

Alternative pro football leagues have a blemished track record with sports fans. Last year’s Alliance of American Football experiment certainly didn’t help the cause. That’s what makes XFL 2020’s Week 1 multi-faceted success all the more remarkable. The old/new league got plenty of attention on its broadcasts (3.12 million average viewership) and in stadiums (over 17K for each contest). And bettors were willing to take advantage of an opportunity to continue plunking down some cash on pro football beyond Super Bowl LIV.

Pennsylvania is one of six states currently offering XFL betting markets. Both DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook saw brisk action on the XFL in both New Jersey and the Keystone State during the league’s debut four-game slate. Unsurprisingly, the nearest team in geographical proximity, the New York Guardians, were at the top of the heap in a couple of different betting categories during opening weekend. According to PlayPennsylvania, the Guardians-Tampa Bay Vipers game saw the most handle at FD Sportsbook. Then, the Guardians were the most bet and largest handle team at DK Sportsbook.

It’s also worth noting FD Sportsbook did 20x handle (in New Jersey) on the XFL’s inaugural Seattle Dragons-DC Defenders game last Saturday afternoon compared to action it took on the AAF’s opening Atlanta Legends-Orlando Apollos tilt last February. It was the same story over on DK. The operator also saw 20x the handle of last year’s AAF debut and 16x the number of bets.

Time will tell if the XFL can buck the trend of complementary pro football leagues that start with a flourish and then see a steady decline. What could make things different this time around is the X-factor that none of the XFL’s predecessors, including its first iteration back in 2001, had the benefit of — legalized sports betting markets on their respective contests.

This Week’s Best Bets at PA Sportsbooks

NBA All-Star Game

James Harden Total Points (o/u 16.5 points)

Granted, for whatever reason, Harden has seemingly forgotten how to shoot in his last two All-Star Games. That’s the primary reason you can get plus money on the over for a modest total of 16.5 points. Harden has prompted enough skepticism due to his combined 6-for-26 shooting over his last pair of All-Star tilts. He also has generated three consecutive 12-point ASG tallies. In all, The Beard has fallen short of 17 points in five of seven ASGs.

However, there’s naturally zero doubt Harden is capable of blowing past the 17-point threshold. That’s particularly true when factoring in he’s likely to log at least 25 minutes. He’s done so in four of the last five ASGs. For what it’s worth, Harden also heads into this year’s exhibition shooting slightly better than his season percentages. The perennial All-Star is draining just 43.7 percent of his attempts on the campaign. However, he posted a 45.5 percent success rate over the last six games going into the layoff.

To Score Most Three-Pointers

Much like the aforementioned Harden prop, this bet offers an opportunity to nab an appealing price on a prop an ultra-talented player is fully capable of accomplishing. Doncic’s recent seven-game absence due to an ankle injury shouldn’t be an issue, either. Any questions of rust were obliterated by the elite guard with his 33-point performance on the strength of 55.6 percent shooting Wednesday versus the Kings in his first game back.

Naturally, Doncic will have plenty of competition for most made threes in market that also features the likes of Harden, Trae Young and Kawhi Leonard. Luka is shooting a pedestrian 32.3 percent from distance overall this season. But, he’s also drained at least five threes on 12 occasions. Moreover, it’s worth noting the high for made threes in the last five All-Star Games has been seven. That’s certainly a threshold within Doncic’s range of outcomes.

All-Star Game Over/Under (O/U 301.5 points)

FoxBet Sportsbook: Over 301.5 points (-118)

While the Under on this wager is available at plus money (+100), the Over comes off as the much safer proposition. The ASG has a well-earned reputation for plenty of lackadaisical defense. In recent years, that’s resulted in plenty of combined totals of greater than 300 points. Five of the last six ASGs have finished with a total of at least 318 points. Last season’s game, the second under the current format of two teams selected by designated captains, finished with 342 total points.

As customary, there’s no shortage of prolific scorers in this year’s contest. Given the amount of talent on the court and recent history, the Over doesn’t need much justification as a selection.