Raptors significant betting underdogs to win NBA title

Tim and Sid wonder if the Toronto Raptors are getting enough respect for their accomplishments, or if those even matter as the season approaches.

While a number of teams near the top of the NBA championship odds have gone through roster shake-ups during the off-season, it has been a relatively quiet summer for the Golden State Warriors, who enter training camp as heavy -160 favourites to repeat as NBA champions at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

With the re-signings of two-time MVP Stephen Curry and 2015 NBA Finals MVP Andre Iguodala, Golden State is poised to return to the court with largely the same group that won 67 regular-season games last year. The Warriors followed up their league-leading regular-season performance by winning a record 14 straight playoff contests en route to their second NBA title in three years.

However, the Warriors have no shortage of challengers to their NBA throne, including the defending Eastern Conference champions, the Cleveland Cavaliers, who sit second on the NBA championship odds at +550.

It has been a summer marked by change in Cleveland, including a blockbuster trade that sent point guard Kyrie Irving to Boston in exchange for a package centred around point guard Isaiah Thomas, who proved his mettle last spring by playing through personal tragedy during the Celtics’ run to the Eastern Conference Finals.

With Thomas sidelined by a hip injury that will delay his Cleveland debut, the Cavaliers also added veteran talent in the form of former MVP Derrick Rose and LeBron James’ former Miami Heat teammate Dwyane Wade. However, the Cavaliers will have to fend off a steadily improving Celtics squad that closely trails them as a +800 bet to claim their first NBA title since 2010.

A pair of Western Conference rivals rounds out the favourites on the NBA championship odds, with the San Antonio Spurs joining the Oklahoma City Thunder at +1200. Kawhi Leonard, who averaged 25.5 points per game during a breakthrough season in 2016/17, will lead the Spurs. Leonard has also emerged as a leading candidate to claim NBA MVP honors this season.

The Thunder have clearly declared their intention to challenge the Warriors this season by pulling the trigger on deals to acquire forward Paul George and small forward Carmelo Anthony, giving new life to their NBA championship odds which sat at a middling +2500 just two weeks ago.

For the first time in recent years, the Toronto Raptors open training camp badly trailing on the NBA futures odds at +7500 with an over-under win total of 48.5. The Raptors hit the court amid tempered expectations after meekly bowing out of last spring’s post-season with a four-game loss to Cleveland in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

That has the Raptors in 11th place on those NBA championship futures heading into the season, even putting them behind the Philadelphia 76ers. Philadelphia, finally getting Rookie of the Year contender Ben Simmons into its lineup this season, has +6600 title odds.

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