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Odds to Win the Atlantic Division: Raptors Eclipse Celtics as New Favorites

Toronto Raptors Kyle Lowry Atlantic Division NBA

For the first time in the 2017-18 NBA season, the Boston Celtics are not favored to win the Atlantic Division.

According to oddsmakers at Bovada, the Toronto Raptors are the -160 front-runners to garner the banner at the end of the regular season. The Celtics sit in plus-money at +130. At the start of the season, the C’s were massive -400 chalk to win the Atlantic, while the Raptors were available for +550. When it comes to Eastern Conference futures, Cleveland remains the favorite (-175) while Toronto ranks second at +350 and Boston is in third with a +400 chance of representing the conference in the NBA Finals.

As of February 28, the Raptors occupied the top spot in the Eastern Conference at 42-17 SU, while the Celtics sat a half-game behind them with a record of 43-19. Both teams have been competitive in recent years, but it’s clear the sports betting community was expecting Boston to run away with the division after the Celtics took the Atlantic in 2016-17 before bowing out to Cleveland in the Eastern Conference finals.

So, how have the Raptors stayed in the hunt? Led by the dynamic backcourt duo of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, the Dinos can go toe to toe with any guard tandem in the NBA night in and night out. They possess one of the best and deepest bench units in the Association, with the likes of Delon Wright, Norman Powell, C.J. Miles, Fred VanVleet, Pascal Siakam and Jakob Poeltl able to come in and contribute without missing a step on either end of the floor.

Numbers never lie

Toronto’s +8.6 point differential ranks second in the NBA behind only the Houston Rockets (+8.9). The Celtics are fourth in that regard at +3.9, but are 21st in points per game (103.6). Toronto’s PPG is third in the league (112.2). They’ve had a tough time earning respect from pundits due to their many postseason disappointments, but this edition of the Raps feels different.

The Celtics have had the edge at the betting window, as Boston is the top spread bet in the NBA at 36-24-2 ATS. Toronto is not far off (33-26 ATS) and has been especially money when playing at home (17-13 ATS).

It’s going to be yet another exciting race to the finish in the Atlantic Division. Which squad do you think is going to earn the bragging rights? Have your say in the comments.

2017-18 NBA Atlantic Division Odds
TeamOdds
Toronto Raptors-160
Boston Celtics+130

Odds as of February 28 at Bovada

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The Boston Celtics have spent the better part of eight decades as one of the NBA’s model franchises, and they’re once again in that territory thanks to a monumental offseason.

A year removed from garnering the top seed in the Eastern Conference, the Celtics are set to field a completely new group this season with only four members of the 2016-17 club returning (Jaylen Brown, Al Horford, Terry Rozier and Marcus Smart).

Boston made a splash in free agency by luring star small forward Gordon Hayward away from Utah, but that was only the tip of the iceberg for general manager Danny Ainge. Ainge finally dipped into his highly regarded treasure chest of assets by dealing beloved point guard Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and the Brooklyn Nets’ unprotected 2018 first-round pick to Cleveland for Kyrie Irving.

With a starting five of Irving, Brown, Hayward, Marcus Morris and Al Horford, it’s no surprise to see the Celts as the heavy -400 favorites to win the Atlantic Division in the upcoming campaign at Bovada. The Toronto Raptors (+550), Philadelphia 76ers (+750), New York Knicks (+5000) and Brooklyn Nets (+10000) are all available at plus-money.

While many fans and pundits alike expected the Raptors to blow things up in the summer, team president Masai Ujiri decided to stay the course by re-signing face of the franchise Kyle Lowry and steady power forward Serge Ibaka. Cory Joseph was dealt to Indiana for CJ Miles in what looks like an immediate upgrade at the three spot in the wake of the departure of DeMarre Carroll to Brooklyn.

The Dinos have chemistry, a rabid fan base and plenty of talent across the board, spearheaded by the backcourt duo of Lowry and the ascending DeMar DeRozan. Don’t expect the Raps to go away quietly in the Atlantic this year.

As for the remaining three teams? The 76ers are the only other squad with a realistic chance to compete this year, but I’m not expecting them to make the leap just yet. With a dynamic young core of Markelle Fultz, Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid and Dario Saric, Philly is going to be downright terrifying in the future but it won’t happen overnight.

2017-18 NBA Atlantic Division Odds
TeamOdds
Boston Celtics-400
Toronto Raptors+550
Philadelphia 76ers+750
New York Knicks+5000
Brooklyn Nets+10000

Odds as of October 2 at Bovada

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