Wed. Apr. 06, 2016
Last updated: May 20, 2016
The eyes of the NBA were locked on a heavyweight showdown between the reigning NBA champion Golden State Warriors and the San Antonio Spurs Saturday, a matchup of the top two teams in the Association.
That race in the Western Conference may get all the headlines, with Golden State currently three games ahead of San Antonio for the No. 1 seed and all-important home-court advantage in the postseason, but another heated battle is going on in the East.
The Toronto Raptors are running down the Cleveland Cavaliers for the top spot in the conference with less than a month remaining on the schedule. The 2015-16 season is shaping up to be Toronto's best shot at not only the Eastern Conference crown but also the NBA Finals - and perhaps an improbable NBA championship. However, the Toronto Raptors betting odds may not reflect the team's current success.
Golden State and San Antonio easily have the top betting odds to win the NBA title in 2015-16, with the Warriors priced at -133 while the Spurs are paying +300. Behind them are the Cavaliers at +375, who lead the Eastern Conference by a slim margin.
Hot on the heels of Cavs are the Raptors, who as of March 20, are one game back of Cleveland for the top seed in the East - yet still draw massive odds to win the NBA Championship. Oddsmakers are giving the Raptors little respect, setting 48-21 Toronto as a +2,000 long shot to hoist the Larry O'Brien Trophy. However, that is a lot lower than the Raptors' +5,000 odds to win the title last season.
To be fair, the East is a very top-heavy conference with really only the Cavaliers appearing equipped to tackle which ever club comes out of the West - at least as far as oddsmakers are concerned. Besides Golden State and San Antonio, the Oklahoma City Thunder (fourth overall favorite +1,400) and Los Angeles Clippers (+2,800) round out the powerhouses on the left side of the country.
That West Coast bias lends added value to the Raptors betting odds, who have a respectable record against non-conference foes this season, entering the week at 15-10 versus the West. Toronto fell twice to the Warriors but managed to cover the spread in both games, giving the defending champs all they could handle.
The Raptors also knocked off San Antonio in their lone meeting this season, winning 97-94 at home, and meets the Spurs in Texas on April 2. Against Oklahoma City, the Raps took a 103-98 win early into the season and have another date in OKC before the end of the month. And versus the L.A. Clippers, Toronto took a pair of W's, downing the Clips 91-80 in L.A. back in November and holding home turf with a 112-94 win in January.
Given that success against the Western Conference elite, it's easy to see why the Raptors are a tempting futures play to win the NBA title for optimistic basketball bettors north of the border. The Toronto Raptors betting odds to win the East aren't as juicy, set at +400 behind the Cavaliers at -300, even while owning a 2-1 edge over the LeBron & Co. on the season.
Toronto has three potential matchups for the opening round of the NBA Playoffs, of course, depending on its final seeding. It seems unlikely the Raptors will sink to third in the conference - up 8.5 games on the Atlanta Hawks - so you can pencil Toronto into a matchup with the No. 7 or No, 8 seed in the East.
Given its current standing at No. 2, Toronto would welcome the No. 7 Indiana Pacers in a first-round series. The Pacers, while they're +10,000 long shots to win the NBA title and at +4,000 to win the East, are still a dangerous team. Indiana started the season strong but the wheels began wobbling when the calendar flipped to December. The Pacers been up and down in 2016 but have shown they can compete with wins against the Spurs and Thunder. The Raptors edged the Pacers in overtime last Thursday and lead the season series 2-1 with an early April date pending.
Another possible first-round candidate for Toronto are the Chicago Bulls, who maintain the eighth and finale postseason ticket in the Eastern Conference. The Bulls have won nine in a row over Toronto going back to the 2013-14 season.
Another scary thing about Chicago (+7,500 to win title/+3,300 to win East) is that it has rarely had all its key cogs healthy at the same time. But Jimmy Butler is back in the lineup after missing a chunk of games due to a knee injury, Pau Gasol is expected to return before the playoffs, and Derrick Rose is showing glimpses of his MVP form.
Lastly, Toronto could open the playoffs versus the Detroit Pistons (+15,000/+5,000), who sit ninth in the East as of this week. Detroit is playing solid basketball with a 9-5 record in its last 14 outings, including a 114-101 win over Toronto. The Raptors won two of three meetings with the Pistons this year.
Regardless of who the Canadian basketball team plays in the first round, the +2,000 long shot gives fans an attractive option to take advantage of somewhat favourable Toronto Raptors betting odds in the 2016 NBA playoffs. If it's a wager you'd like to make, Sports Interaction is highly recommended Canadian-owned sports book that will take your bet.
There were plenty of moments in the opening round of the NBA Playoffs when it seemed like the Raptors were headed for another early exit from the postseason.
Pegged as the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference, Toronto clashed with the seventh-seeded Indiana Pacers in the conference quarterfinals. And while there was plenty separating these teams in the final standings, with the NBA betting odds setting the Raptors as -300 series favorites, that gap quickly closed when Indiana took Game 1 of the series 100-90 as a 7-point underdog in Toronto.
Toronto rebounded with wins in Games 2 and 3, then traded blows with the Pacers eventually setting up a deciding Game 7 back in the Air Canada Centre. After suffering first-round exits in their previous five playoff appearances, the Raptors held on for an 89-84 win over Indiana but failed to cover as 6-point Game 7 betting favorites at home. That victory pushed Toronto into the second round for the first time since the 2000-01 season.
Toronto's second round opponent is the playoff savvy Miami Heat and their roster full of veteran talent, including superstar Dwyane Wade. The NBA odds set the Raptors as -165 series favorites heading into Game 1, bumping Toronto to +550 to win the Eastern Conference and as big as +4,000 to win the NBA title before the conference semis tipped off.
The Raptors attempted to get a Game 1 monkey off their backs in the series opener at home against the Miami Heat, having dropped six straight Game 1 situations. However, even a buzzer-beating halfcourt heave from Kyle Lowry to force overtime wasn't enough, and Toronto was outscored 12-6 in the added frame to lose 102-96 as a 3.5-point home favorite.
Toronto once again found itself in an extra frame for Game 2 Thursday night against the Miami Heat. And while the Dinos did return serve with a thrilling 96-92 OT victory and got some much-needed scoring from Lowry and DeMarre Carroll, their sports betting backers came up short with the home side laying five points.
That near miss at the sportsbook was the sixth straight loss against the spread Toronto bettors have had to swallow and dropped the Raptors to just 2-9 ATS (Against The Spread) this postseason. With this second-round series swinging back to South Beach, oddsmakers opened Toronto as a 5-point road underdog for Game 3 in Miami and that was quickly bet up to +5.5 with early money on the Heat.
The Game 2 win and successful showing from Toronto's stars have oddsmakers on the fence when it comes to adjusted series prices, setting both the Raptors and Heat at -116 to advance to the Eastern Conference finals. Toronto, which entered the postseason at +400 to win the East and +2,000 to win the NBA title, is now +600 to claim the conference crown and +2,500 to bring the Larry O'Brien Trophy over the border.
Toronto found itself in a mismatch of rest and preparation after once again going the seven-game limit against Miami in the Eastern Conference semifinals. The Raps, advancing to the conference finals for the first time in franchise history, found the Cleveland Cavaliers waiting, fresh from a four-game sweep of Atlanta in their second round series.
The Toronto Raptor's betting odds reflect this difference in downtime (Toronto playing 14 games and Cleveland only eight) and promptly installed Toronto as a +900 long shot to knock off LeBron James & Co., with Cleveland coming back as a -1,600 series favorite. Game 1 found the Raptors as big as 11.5-point road underdogs, and even those projections were off with the Cavs crushing the worn-out road team 115-84 - covering the NBA pointspread by almost 20 points.
Following that one-sided defeat, Toronto has been adjusted to a +1,200 series underdog (Cleveland -10,000) and sits as large as +20,000 to win the NBA Championship. Oddsmakers opened the Raptors as 12-point pups in Cleveland for Game 2. So far this postseason, they have gone 2-4 against the spread (ATS) when taking the points and are just 5-10 ATS overall during the NBA Playoffs, with a 6-9 Over/Under record.
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