National Basketball Association
'Bear Bets': Group Chat's best bets on Belmont, NBA Finals
National Basketball Association

'Bear Bets': Group Chat's best bets on Belmont, NBA Finals

Published Jun. 6, 2024 4:46 p.m. ET

Bear Bets is back and ready to go, as a few major titles are on the line. 

FOX Sports' digital gambling show returned this week to discuss the Belmont Stakes, NBA Finals and Stanley Cup Final. 

Chris "The Bear" Fallica and Geoff Schwartz were rejoined by Sam Panayotovich and Will Hill in the Group Chat segment to discuss their favorite wagers for the big events. 

So, without further ado, let's get right into the action. 


The final race of the triple crown is this weekend. The Belmont Stakes is on Saturday (4 p.m. ET on FOX and the FOX Sports app), but is in a different location this year, being held at Saratoga Race Course as Belmont Park is being renovated. What plays do you have entering the weekend?

Hill: Antiquarian (+1200) to win

"Todd Pletcher's the trainer. Pletcher's won the Belmont four times. And if you look at last year, Arcangelo won the Belmont after winning the Peter Pan a month prior." 

The Bear: Sierra Leone (+190) to win

"Basically, Chad Brown and Todd Pletcher, Saratoga is their backyard. You get the equipment change, you get the rider change, you get five weeks off since the Kentucky Derby and you get a shorter field, which you should be able to navigate through even better. I think it was the best horse in the derby. He just didn't win. I am not a lay-it-and-laugh kind of guy, a hammer and pound the favorite. But I expect this horse to go off much shorter than his morning line."

Moving from the track to the court, Game 1 of the NBA Finals between the Boston Celtics and Dallas Mavericks will take place on Thursday. Do you have any thoughts or wagers on the series?

Hill: Jrue Holiday to win Finals MVP (+10000)

"I thought it was a sleeper to mention Jrue Holiday, but it seems he's everybody's sleeper now because they remember Andre Iguodala. This is usually not a sleeper award. It's usually just as simple as the best player on the best team. Michael Jordan wins it. LeBron James wins it. Don't overthink it. 

"But if you're looking for a long shot, Holiday's probably going to guard either Kyrie Irving, Luka Doncic or both. If he holds them to some 8-for-24 nights and chips in with 15 or 20 points, there's this narrative that Jayson Tatum is a good player but not a great player."

Hill: Celtics in 7 (+340)

"They have five shooters. They can play five-out and Dallas played teams that had guys they didn't have to guard on the perimeter. You didn't have to guard Rudy Gobert on the perimeter. You don't have to guard Josh Giddey on the perimeter. You have to guard everybody on Boston."

Sammy P: Celtics to win series; parlay Celtics to win Game 1 and series (-130)

"I was talking to Jeff Sherman, who's a very good basketball oddsmaker in Vegas at the SuperBook, and he said before the playoffs started, they make series prices on all these matchups, and they had the Celtics as a $4 favorite in this matchup. And they even wanted to go a little bit higher, -420 or -425. So, when you take that number into account … we're at the point now where we can -205 or -210 on the better and deeper team.

"Game 1 favorites are 16-3 against the spread. That's not the largest sample size, but it's 19 years and 16 favorites have covered."

Celtics or Mavericks under more pressure in Game 1?

Schwartz: Like Mavericks to win series, bet Luka Doncic to win MVP (+210)

"I'm just taking the team that has the better closers. I'm taking Dallas to win in six or seven. I wouldn't be surprised if Dallas wins in six at home.

"If the Mavericks win the series, Doncic is going to win the MVP. This number is better than betting the Mavericks to win the series. 

Meanwhile, the Stanley Cup Final is also here. The Florida Panthers are a slight favorite (-125) over the Edmonton Oilers. Do you have a side or any other wagers you like in this series?

The Bear: Panthers to win series

"[Sergei Bobrovsky] has been fantastic. I think the Panthers have so many different ways that they can win games and they can score well. They can beat you 5-1 if they need to. They'd rather not, but at the same time, you look up, and they're dominating games, and it's 2-0 because they're so deep.

"If you could draw up a team that I think is tailor-made to beat Edmonton and deal with Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid, it's Florida."

Sammy P: Aleksander Barkov to score most goals (+1400)

"It's a number grab. This guy is awesome. He scores goals in big moments. I think Barkov at that price is solid. He's gonna light some lamps in this series and I think eventually we're gonna get that Stuart Skinner regression in net for the Oilers. Skinner has sort of been hidden because Edmonton has the puck so much, and Edmonton's power play is very good. But if Florida can control the pace and the puck, they're going to score some goals on Skinner."

The Bear: Gustav Forsling to win Conn Smythe (+9500)

"Forsling is fantastic. He does everything. He's someone that if you're watching hockey, you can see the things he does that don't always register in the box score. He can score, he can pass, he can kill penalties, and you can put him on the power play if need be."

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