The Raptors look to grab the Canadian spotlight this season
When it comes to backing their teams in the major North American leagues, Canada is a fierce fan that goes big to the very end. But, that’s not to say that the fan bases don’t know when their teams aren’t quite ready to contend yet.
Well, in the NBA this year, fans of Canada’s representative have many reasons to be optimistic and have certainly backed their predictions on the betting sites. Online betting sites are often a good way to gauge how a team is expected to perform in the upcoming game or season, and it appears as though Toronto Raptors fans have been putting their team in the hot seat for the 2018/19 season.
Following up on a historic campaign
Last season marked a historic campaign for the Toronto Raptors. The regular season ended with the Toronto Raptors atop the Eastern Conference as the number one seed entering the playoffs for the first time since their inception in 1995/96.
After making their way past the Washington Wizards in six games, the Raptors were unfortunate to meet the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Conference Semifinals. With LeBron James on a mission, no Eastern Conference team was going to stop the Cavs, who swept past Toronto to end Canada’s NBA postseason.
Now, James is in the opposite conference, which has awakened every single contending team in the Eastern Conference, including the already on the up Raptors. James has had such a stranglehold on the conference over the last four years that it’s anyone’s guess which team will make it to the NBA Finals.
With the top spot even more up for grabs, one would assume that the dominant Raptors would be the favorites to reclaim the top of the Eastern Conference, at least in the regular season. However, the NBA betting has the Boston Celtics as the favorite at -125, with the Philadelphia 76ers at +220, and then the Raptors at +300 to win the Atlantic Division. This is significant as the Atlantic boasts the best three teams in the conference.
Big changes in the offseason
Fans are, understandably, getting behind Toronto’s underdog odds to win the division as they’ve proven themselves to be a very strong team. During the offseason, the Raptors managed to keep the core of the team intact, but two huge changes have certainly swayed the odds.
In a summer blockbuster trade, Toronto sent DeMar DeRozan and Jakob Poeltl to the San Antonio Spurs in exchange for Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green. DeRozan was a fine player for the Raptors, but Leonard is the best two-way player in the league, bringing real MVP quality with him. Then, Green adds some much-needed depth to the team.
The Raptors have also made a switch at head coach. Toronto opted to fire Dwane Casey after his historic season in which he was the first Raptors head coach to be picked for the All-Star game as well as receiving the NBCA Coach of the Year and NBA Coach of the Year awards. Now, the team will be led by former assistant coach Nick Nurse.
Last season, the Celtics and Cavaliers were the undisputed favorites to top the Eastern Conference and go all the way, but the Raptors managed to sneak in. Now, Toronto arguably has a better team, and could once again push for supremacy during the regular season as well as a strong run in the playoffs.