The Raptors are back in the NBA playoffs for the first time since 2008! Not only are they back in the playoffs, but they won their division and will have home court advantage through the first round of the playoffs. The Raps are in for a stiff test against the Brooklyn Nets who have a lot of post season experience with Garnett and Paul Pierce, but the Raptors have a lot of untapped potential that could see them go far this year. They will also have a little extra fuel added to their fire because there are several reports that the Nets purposely lost their final two games in order to set up this match up and avoid the Bulls.
The oddsmakers have the Raptors as the underdogs in this series, which is quite something because the Raps are the only team in the first round who are seen as underdogs while holding home court advantage.
I wanted to throw this out there here too for anyone who is reading this article. I’m running an NBA bracket contest to coincide with the launch of Sports Betting Canadian. It’s free to enter and you can win 2 free tickets to any professional Canadian sporting event this summer. Click here for the full details.
Brooklyn Nets 1.67
Toronto Raptors 2.30
As you can see the Nets are fairly big favourites in this series. It’s a bit of a surprise considering Brooklyn’s horrible road record of 16-25 this season. They will have to win at least 1 game in Toronto to take this series. That said Brooklyn has gone 34-15 since New Year’s and they are getting the production that they expected out of Joe Johnson, Derron Williams and Paul Pierce, which makes this team a very hard out for Toronto.
But Toronto also had a strong finish to their season. Led by Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan the Raps went from looking it was going to be another disappointing season to finishing 3rd in the East, only behind the high powered Heat and Pacers. In fact, the Raptors started the season 7-13, but when they traded Rudy Gay things seemed to change for the better. Since then the Raps are 41-21 which is a crazy winning percentage for a team that many had already counted out.
So the fact of the matter is both of these teams are playing very well. It will come down to whether Lowry and DeRozan can outperform the Nets team that is very deep and likes to spread around their points and minutes.
NBA Championship Odds
The Raptors are not in the serious conversation to win the NBA Championship, but when you look at that 41-21 record since the Rudy Gay trade you have to think they might have a shot. The problem lies in the fact they have a very tough road to the finals, especially for a 3 seed. They play another team that has gelled and has playoff experience right out of the gate in the Nets. Then if they win they would likely play the Heat with Lebron and company. And then if somehow they managed to pull off that monumental upset it would likely be the Pacers and their talented roster. If they got through that they would play the team that has survived the high powered Western Conference. As you can see the NBA Championship aspirations may be very unlikely, but they aren’t totally out of the question.