Raptors drift to 50/1 for NBA glory – time to place your bets?
When the regular season finally got started over the Christmas period, the Raptors faithful could have been forgiven for wondering whether the belated start had really been worth waiting for. Losses in the first three encounters meant that there was little New Year cheer to be had, and as the team slumped to its worst start in the Kyle Lowry era, both the pundits and the bookmakers started to sharpen their knives.
Already, the odds of the Raptors repeating the heroics of 2019 are rapidly diminishing. In fact, the experts at sites like Comeon sportsbook have them priced as generously as 50/1. However, far from being a reason to be downcast, it might just mean that this is the ideal moment to lay down a few dollars.
A habit of winning
First and foremost there is a lot of NBA action ahead of us. Ending the campaign at the top of the pile means developing a habit of winning and sometimes finding unconventional ways to do so. It’s something the Raptors know from experience and their performance against the Miami Heat on January 22nd suggests they have not forgotten that.
Sure, Powell got the points on the board early on, doing all that could be expected of him and more in the absence of the injured Lowry. Likewise, Anunoby sealed the deal to ensure the win. But these bookend performances would have counted for nothing without the defense’s ability to shut down the Heat when they were looking at their most dangerous after the break.
Even more important is the way in which they did so. Despite the departure of some box office names, the Raptors defense is rapidly becoming a unit that is greater than the sum of its parts, fulfilling its role with guile and intelligence. We saw it when they kept the Mavericks down to double digits five days earlier, we saw it again against the Heat, and if we keep seeing it over the coming weeks, the sports books will soon be reassessing those numbers.
At the time of writing, the Raptors are returning to Tampa to face off against the Milwaukee Bucks. It’s too early in the season to be talking about make or break encounters, but it is fair to say that if the Raptors can keep this run going, the horror of those opening weeks will start paling into insignificance. It will certainly put them into the perfect frame of mind to feel they can compete against the Bucks, the Nets, and the other powerhouses of the East.
What else from the sports books?
If putting your hard-earned dollars on a repeat of 2019 is a little too much, there are some other tantalizing odds out there right now. Kyle Lowry is at an incredible 300/1 for Regular Season MVP, while if you prefer to look at some alternative dark horses for the NBA title, the Denver Nuggets could be a compelling choice at 22/1.