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WIZARDS WIN DATE WITH CAVS BUT PISTONS ARE FAVS AT 11/10 Washington beat Detroit 96-80 on the final day of the NBA regular season to clinch the No.5 seed, and will open the playoffs against the fourth-seeded Cleveland Cavaliers when post-season action begins on Saturday April 22nd. Meanwhile, the top-seeded Pistons (and bet365's Championship favourites at 11/10) will open Sunday night against the eighth seeds Milwaukee. In the West, Kobe Bryant scored 35 points to claim his first NBA scoring crown as the Lakers beat New Orleans 115-95 to enter the play-offs riding a five-game victory streak. The Lakers, back in the post-season after a one year absence, take on the Phoenix Suns in a first-round clash featuring two of the league's top MVP candidates, Bryant and Suns guard Steve Nash.

To celebrate the start of playoff action, bet365 are offering customers bonuses of up to 50% on their parlays. Plus, once the games tip-off, be sure to check out their live betting service, available through the In-Play console found on their homepage.

bet365 latest Championship prices ... Pistons 11/10, Spurs 13/5, Suns 8/1, Heat Mavericks 9/1, others on bet365 website.

In bet365's Nextel Cup Championship betting, series leader Jimmie Johnson remains favourite at 4/1 but, after finishing out of the top-10 in two of his last three races, the pack are closing in on him. Four drivers, Matt Kenseth (11/2), Kasey Kahne (10/1), Mark Martin (12/1) and defending series champion Tony Stewart (6/1), are now within 100 points of the No.48 Hendrick Motorsports driver. Kenseth has had four top-three finishes in the last six events and is just 15 points behind, while Kahne joined Johnson as the only multiple winners this season after his victory in the Samsung/Radio Shack 500 on April 9th.

Subway Fresh 500, Phoenix International Speedway
Sa Apr 22 -- 8:00 pm (FOX)
The next race is on Saturday night under the lights of the Phoenix International Speedway, and Tony Stewart is strongly fancied to win his second race of the season. Stewart is a previous winner at this track in 1999, and has fared well since with five top-10 finishes in eight starts. He gets the checkered flag this week at bet365's 6/1, with Matt Kenseth
(7/1) the most likely driver to follow him down Victory Lane.

Nigel's Checkered Flag ... Tony Stewart @ 6/1

bet365 latest Subway Fresh 500 prices ... Tony Stewart 6/1, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Matt Kenseth 7/1, Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson 9/1, others on bet365 website.

The 132nd running of the Kentucky Derby, otherwise known as the Run for the Roses, takes place at Churchill Downs on Saturday 6th May, and Brother Derek deserves his place at the head of the bet365 market at 11/4. The Dan Hendricks-trained front-running colt was a most impressive winner of the Santa Anita Derby on April 8th, looking value for more than his three-and-a-quarter-length victory. It is not easy to oppose him, but he won't have things all his own way out in front, and better value could be had by backing a couple against him.

Lawyer Ron, a 5/1 chance with bet365, has made great progress recently, winning his sixth successive race when cruising home in the Arkansas Derby last time out. He's bound to be popular on the day due to his trainer Bob Holthus' popularity in the area, and he could be challenging for favouritism on the day. Meanwhile, Sweetnorthernsaint is another going the right way after taking the Illinois Derby in some style, and there could be further improvement to come. He rates a sold each way bet at bet365's 7/1 (1/4 odds 1.2.3) for this ten furlong contest, although Tote customers are also assured of some extra value as the firm are adding bonus payments to all winning bets placed on the Tote board - 10% Win / Place / Show, 15% Exotics.

bet365 latest Kentucky Derby prices ... Brother Derek 11/4, Lawyer Ron 5/1, Barbaro 7/1, Sweetnorthernsaint 7/1, Bob and John, Sinister Minister 10/1, others on bet365 website.

Th Apr 20 -- 4:00 pm ET (USA)
Fr Apr 21 -- 4:00 pm ET (USA)
Sa Apr 22 -- 3:00 pm ET (CBS)
Su Apr 23 -- 3:00 pm ET (CBS)
This week's event is being played on a brand new course (Redstone GC, Humble, TX), which unfortunately means there's no course form to go on. However, it's safe to assume that at just under 7,500 yards long, the course is going to suit the long-hitters, which is why the main pick this week is Lucas Glover (tenth in total driving this season). With four top-ten efforts and seven top-25 finishes in 11starts, Glover's had the ‘winner waiting to happen' look for some time now and, at the bet365 price of 28/1, he has to be thereabouts.

Despite having no course form to go on, a good record in Houston is still desirable as it shows an ability to play in the prevailing course and weather conditions, and that means Gary Owen must come into the reckoning at a tasty bet365 price of 40/1. Last year's Houston Open represented his best chance to win on the Tour before the Bay Hill Invitational last month (finished fourth after holding the final round lead during the front nine), and a return to Houston should see him back into he mix. He's worth backing each-way in bet365's outright market, but mustn't be missed at 11/2 to be Top European.

At the same odds, the massive-hitting Camillo Villegas also makes plenty of appeal, having twice made the frame this year in his rookie year. He missed the cut last week at Hilton Head, where the emphasis was on accuracy off the tee, but this week's set-up will be much more to his liking. Don't forget, once the event tees off, bet365 will still be taking plenty of bets via their In-Play Console found on their homepage. The advice here is to back your selection before they reach the intimidating 15th, the longest of the par fives at a mere 607 yards!

The Houston Open Three Off The Tee ... Lucas Glover @ 28/1, Gary Owen @ 40/1, Camillo Villegas @ 40/1. Each-way ¼ odds

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Please be aware that prices are subject to change. All times are subject to change. Check local listings.

NIGEL RIDGWAY, an experienced punter and betting shop owner of many years, believes that “The key to successful gambling is getting value for money.” Nigel was once forced by local bookmakers, to stop writing a tipping column in a UK newspaper, because he was costing them a fortune. Find out what offers and lines are hot at

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