Toronto's fortunes this season will live and die with Kawhi Leonard. If the superstar is motivated and back healthy in a new environment, the Raptors could find themselves in the Eastern Conference Finals.
2017-18 Record: 59-23
2017-18 ATS Record: 48-43-1
2018-19 Season Win Total (Bovada): 55.5
Odds To Make Playoffs (Bovada): -5000
Odds To Win Division (BetOnline): +275
Odds To Win Western Conference (BetOnline): +400
Odds To Win NBA Championship (BetOnline): +1600
The Toronto Raptors are hyped up more this season than in recent memory after the DeMar DeRozan trade. The problem is, sometimes that leads to a team being overvalued ATS. The Raptors had a strong ATS record last regular season, but they famously choked their way out of the playoffs. Toronto was 5-5 ATS in the playoffs, but just 1-3 ATS in their four straight losses to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
However, one could argue that now in an Eastern Conference without LeBron James and with Kawhi Leonard added to an already very deep roster, the Raptors are just an upset of the Celtics away from being in the NBA Finals.
The question is, can they do that and sustain some level of ATS success? I think Toronto can do both, but they are going to need to be dominant at home and play .500 or better at home to do it. They also need another piece. Kyle Lowry is a fantastic player, but he is not a good enough as a second option to beat the Celtics as is.
How Can They Dethrone The Warriors?
If the Raptors start playing chess when everyone else in the East is playing checkers, they can make it to the NBA Finals. What they need to do that is another piece. Whether it be one of their young players turning into a stud this season or trading a few of those young pieces for a rental, the Raptors can shake up the NBA odds board with one big move.
Without that, they cannot beat the Dubs, but with it they will have as good of a shot as Boston, or better odds to make the NBA Finals out of the East. Toronto was good enough last season with Boston injured and LeBron in the East to get the top spot in the conference, and while they could still do that, it also might take some time for them to come together with Leonard leading the team.
Toronto already has a $142 million payroll so making a move in-season might be impossible. However, the Raptors have a ton of young and appealing talent, so I wouldn’t put it past team president Masai Ujiri to try and make a splash. With the way the Leonard trade went down, he needs a really strong showing for his efforts this season, or else he could be on the hot seat. This is even after he recently signed a long-term extension.