When the NBA regular season finally resumes on July 30th, the Toronto Raptors' prospects for a championship repeat may depend on if they can lock up the second seed in the Eastern Conference.
Twenty-two teams are scheduled to play out an abbreviated schedule of just eight games, which will determine playoff seeds. In the East, Milwaukee has all but locked up the top spot with a 53-12 record, far distancing themselves from the rest of the field. Indeed, the Bucks are clearly the team to beat in the East.
However, the Raptors (48-12) are primed to be in the hunt and should be able to avoid the Bucks until the conference finals, provided they take care of business in the final phase of regular season games. Boston (43-21), just three games back of the Raptors with eight games to play (including a critical heads-up face off) are the team to watch capable of making a move and overtaking Toronto.
The three powerhouses appear all set and ready to rise to the occasion. The Los Angeles Lakers (+350), Milwaukee Bucks (+350), and Los Angeles Clippers (+430) have emerged as clear favorites to win the NBA championship.
However, the Raptors offer a nice value, especially for a potential conference 2-seed. Toronto is listed at +2100. Interestingly, the Celtics are more attractive to bettors right now, despite being behind the Raptors in the standings. Boston is currently +1900 to win the championship. Toronto is judged to have a tougher schedule is one of the reasons for this apparent oddity.
Headline Photo Credit: onlinegambling.com