After a four-month hiatus, the NBA is set to return and it is sure to be a thrilling battle for the championship, in which a number of teams are genuine contenders.
Expectations have been particularly high for the Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers all season long, and the same can be said for last year’s Eastern Conference finalists, the Milwaukee Bucks.
All priced around +300 or below, the two L.A. franchises and the Bucks are the three clear standout favourites, but the Toronto Raptors are among those in the next tier, and it is safe to say that they have surprised some people this term.
When the betting opened for the 2020-21 NBA Championship shortly after the 2020 finals, the Raptors were among the leaders in the market at +600. That soon changed a couple of weeks later when Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard joined the Clippers, resulting in a massive +5000 being offered by some sportsbooks.
But no Kawhi has not left Toronto with no hope. In fact, their win percentage in the regular season thus far is greater than last season’s win rate, and with the likes of Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet leading the Canadian outfit into a new era, there are many reasons to be optimistic not just about the team’s chances this season, but for years to come.
After a look at the betting odds across all of the NBA sportsbooks on mybettingsites.com/ca, there is some variation in terms of the price for the Raptors to pull off a repeat. The odds have been shortening gradually since January when Toronto began a 15-game winning run, and that has caused some bookmakers to go as short as +1400.
Other betting sites, however, have a Raptors title win priced at +2300, which could represent value. Rarely would you normally see such a big difference in odds for a futures market while in the middle of the season, even in these unusual circumstances.
The odds for the Eastern Conference are equally interesting and, like the NBA Championship prices, some sportsbooks favour the Boston Celtics over Toronto, and others vice versa.
Toronto’s odds to emerge from the East this year range from +500 to +800, and there is similar uncertainty surrounding the Philadelphia 76ers and to an extent the Celtics and Miami Heat.
The Bucks are the clear -200 favourites to win the Eastern Conference, but they were an even shorter price than that to beat Toronto in their series last May, but it was, of course, the Raptors who triumphed en route to a maiden NBA Championship.
Before Nick Nurse and his team think about the playoffs, they have the remainder of the regular season to think about, and it doesn’t get any tougher than a game against the Lakers first up.
By then, the Lakers will have already played in two competitive outings, and it is perhaps no surprise to see them as odds-on favourites versus the defending champions. The spread is set at 3.5 points as of July 15th, while there is a +150 price up for grabs on Toronto to win the game.