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Raptors Leap Celtics in Odds to Dethrone LeBron

DeMar DeRozan driving to the basket.
Can DeMar DeRozan and the Toronto Raptors prevent LeBron James from reaching his eighth consecutive NBA Finals? (Photo by Javier Rojas/Zuma Press/Icon Sportswire)
  • Sportsbooks suggest the Toronto Raptors are the team LeBron James and the Cavaliers must fear in the East
  • Are the Celtics still the better bet?
  • Updated odds to win the 2018 NBA Championship

For the first time all season, the Boston Celtics are no longer the favorites to steal the Eastern Conference from LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Thanks to winning 13 of their last 14, the Toronto Raptors now have shorter odds than the Celtics to win the 2018 NBA Championship

For the last few years the Raptors were the team who had no problem logging regular-season wins, but stumbled in the playoffs when teams got physical with them. Entering the 2017-18 season, head coach Dwyane Casey aimed to change this by emphasizing ball movement on offense and a collective focus on the defensive end.

Casey’s cries were certainly heard.

2016-17 Raptors
VS
2017-18 Raptors

106.9 (10th) Points Per Game 112 (4th)
109.8 (6th) Offensive Rating 110.8 (4th)
18.5 (30th) Assists Per Game 23.8 (7th)
102.6 (8th) Points Allowed Per Game 103.3 (6th)
4.9 (12th) Blocks Per Game 6.1 (2nd)
104.9 (8th) Defensive Rating 102.5 (3rd)

What has been crucial for the Raptors this season has been their improved depth and (more importantly) the trust both Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan have shown in their teammates.

Will this new approach be enough to get the Raptors over the hump, and prevent LeBron James from reaching his eighth consecutive NBA Finals? Or is “The King” simply going to be too much come the playoffs?

The Cavaliers have seen their 2018 NBA Championship odds fade from +600 (February 19) to +650 on Bovada, as they have now lost four of their last eight. Meanwhile the Raptors’ odds have shortened from +1600 (February 19) to +1100, surpassing the Boston Celtics (+1600) for second-shortest odds in the East.

Team Odds to win 2018 NBA Championship
Cleveland Cavaliers +650
Toronto Raptors +1100
Boston Celtics +1600
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After receiving a bachelor's degree in communications, Matt spent two years with Rogers TV as a host, producer, and play-by-play commentator. He has been with us since 2016 and serves as SBD's editor-in-chief and sports betting expert.