The Bucks entered Orlando as a massive favorite to reach the NBA Finals (-167 at DraftKings). But, is it time to consider the Toronto Raptors a legitimate threat to win the Eastern Conference?
The defending NBA champions upped its record to 2-0 in Orlando following a 107-103 win over the Miami Heat on Monday afternoon.
On Saturday night, as a three-point underdog, the Raptors outscored the Lakers by 13 in the fourth quarter en route to a 107-92 win. Personally, I was a fan of the dog on Saturday night.
Ok, enough horn tooting from me.
Wait, can I do one more? Before the restart, I said “If I had to pick one team to take down the Milwaukee Bucks and reach the NBA Finals, I would bet the Raptors at +800.” Now, the Raptors are +450 to win the East. Is it too late to bet on Toronto?
While I would prefer to have +800 odds, the Raptors know what it takes to win a championship. Don’t believe me? Ask LeBron James. “It’s a great team,” LeBron said following the Raptors win over the Lakers. “No ifs, ands or buts. Exceptionally well coached. Championship DNA, you can never take that away from a ball club.”
With Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green gone, Fred VanVleet has stepped up. VanVleet entered this season averaging 10.4 points per game. This season, he has upped his production to 17.9 points per game and added a career-high 6.6 assists per game.
On Monday against the Heat, VanVleet had a monster game.
Kyle Lowry stepped up on Saturday night against the Lakers with 33 points and a career-high 14 rebounds.
The Raptors have the second-best defensive rating in the NBA. Pascal Siakam is one of the top defensive players in the league and has improved his point total from 16.9 points per game to 23.5 points per game this season. Nick Nurse, despite not winning Coach of the Year, is one of the premier coaches in the NBA.
At +450 to win the Eastern Conference, I would not race to the window to bet on the Raptors, but keep an eye on them.
Or, go back in time and take them at +800 to the Eastern Conference.