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Raptors Overtake Celtics for Best Odds to Win the Atlantic Division

Eric Rosales

by Eric Rosales in NBA Basketball

Updated Apr 13, 2020 · 10:29 AM PDT

Kyle Lowry
The Raptors are tied with Golden State for the best record in the NBA. Photo by Keith Allison (Flickr)
  • The Raptors have emerged as the favorite to take the Atlantic
  • Toronto is tied for the league lead with a 10-1 record
  • Are the Celtics still the better bet?

With all due respect to the Philadelphia 76ers, it’s a two-horse race in the Atlantic Division.

And right now, odds like the Toronto Raptors.

Odds to Win the NBA Atlantic Division in 2018-19

Team Record Odds
Toronto Raptors 10-1 +110
Boston Celtics 6-4 +135
Philadelphia 76ers 6-5 +425
Brooklyn Nets 5-6 +10000
New York Knicks 3-8 +12500

Raptors Unstoppable to Start Season

There’s a lot to like. A team that had question marks all offseason about the type of squad they were going to be is lighting the league on fire.

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Toronto is tied with the perennial powerhouse Golden State Warriors for the best record in the NBA at 10-1 – and that’s with Kawhi Leonard having missed three games already.

It hasn’t mattered. Take their current Western Conference trip. Starting off with a win in Phoenix, the Raps faced a hellacious back-to-back against LeBron’s Lakers and the Jazz in Salt Lake.

With a relentless attacking style on both offense and defense, the Raptors laid waste to both teams, including an absolute stomping in Hollywood, a game that was over after one quarter of play.

Raptors vs Celtics Statistical Comparison

114.8 (2nd) Offensive Rating 103.5 (27th)
117.4 (6th) Points 104.2 (27th)
26.1 (4th) Assists 23.6 (18th)
49.2 (4th) Field-Goal Percentage 43.0 (26th)
35.1 (T-14th) Three-Point Percentage 35.1 (T-14th)
106.1 (9th) Defensive Rating 100.8 (1st)
108.0 (8th) Points Allowed 101.3 (1st)
42.9 (4th) Field-Goal Percentage Allowed 42.2 (2nd)
35.9 (18th) Three-Point Percentage Allowed 29.6 (1st)
44.0 (T-5th) Points In The Paint 44.8 (9th)

Celtics Finding their Way Early

It would be premature to assume, however, that this race is over.

For a team trying to re-incorporate their two superstar players into an uber talented lineup, it’s not all bad for the 6-4 Boston Celtics.

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First, the good news: it appears that Kyrie Irving has found the sort of scoring groove that made him an absolute killer while with the Cavs. He’s averaged 25.7 points and five assists a game in November, shooting 59.2% from the field and 56.0% from three.

He also appears to have that competitive fire burning. After a loss in Denver, he didn’t take too kindly to Jamal Murray trying to rack up 50 in the closing moments, and sent the souvenir ball into the audience. I like that.

But the bad news? The other returning star, Gordon Hayward, has struggled to find his groove. He’s averaging just over 10 points a game on the season, and has played about 25 minutes a night.

Irving and Hayward were supposed to be able to lift last year’s struggling offense to top-flight heights. It hasn’t happened. And there are rumblings down the roster as other stars-in-waiting want minutes.

Thankfully, Boston’s bread and butter has been one of the best defenses in the NBA, and should float them till they inevitably figure it out.

Who’s the Best Bet?

The Raptors currently sit top six across the NBA in scoring, field goal percentage and assists, as they try and find their range from deep – which was supposed to be a strong suit this year (T-14th at 35.1%).

It should be mentioned Kyle Lowry is playing at an All-Star level, and in non-Kawhi games has been the star. That’s a bonus.

The offense has been balanced by a stout defense, powered by outstanding wing play. Leonard, Danny Green, OG Anunoby, Pascal Siakam and Serge Ibaka are collectively the toughest group of players to try to get by right now. In this score-happy NBA, not needing help allows the Raptors to get the mini stops they need to be successful.

In this score-happy NBA, not needing help allows the Raptors to get the mini stops they need to be successful.

They’re eighth in points allowed and are one of four teams to hold their opponent to under 43% from the field this year. And remember, Leonard hasn’t yet hit his full stride.

Injuries aside, Toronto is in position for a conference crown, and that makes them the best bet in the Atlantic.

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