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NBA Eastern Conference Futures: Are the Raptors a Legitimate Threat?

LeBron James has absolutely owned the Eastern Conference over the years, and according to oddsmakers, it’s going to be more of the same when all is said and done in 2017-18.

The Cleveland Cavaliers are -140 faves to represent the East in the NBA Finals at Bovada, with the Boston Celtics (+240), Toronto Raptors (+600), Washington Wizards (+1600), Philadelphia 76ers (+3300), Milwaukee Bucks (+3300), Detroit Pistons (+5000), Miami Heat (+6600), Indiana Pacers (+10000), Charlotte Hornets (+15000) and New York Knicks (+20000) available to wager on.

As of January 18, the Cavs were sliding down the standings after dropping eight of their last 10. Cleveland has been extremely hot and cold this season and is currently struggling to incorporate Isaiah Thomas into the lineup. It’s no surprise to see the Cavaliers having issues in the regular season, but there is some cause for concern in Northeast Ohio — especially with LeBron James set to become a free agent in the offseason.

The Cavs’ odds have shifted from -175 to -140 as of early November, so oddsmakers clearly aren’t panicking yet. The biggest movement has been for the Raptors, as the odds for Canada’s lone NBA team have shifted from +1600 to +600 as of this writing. Toronto boasts one of the deepest benches in the league to go along with top-end talent across the board, and the transition of DeMar DeRozan from a slasher to a consistent deep threat has added a new dimension to Toronto’s offense.

While the Raptors’ recent run has been spectacular, the vast majority of plus-money will likely come in on the Celtics. Boston’s chances of representing the East in the NBA Finals have moved from +300 to +240 in the last three months, and Kyrie Irving’s imprint on the C’s has been noticeable.

While it’s true James has dominated the Eastern Conference, the race for the banner is shaping up to be the most competitive it’s been in quite some time this spring. Check out the book’s full list of odds:

2017-18 NBA Eastern Conference Champion Odds
TeamCurrent OddsOpening Odds
Cleveland Cavaliers-140-182
Boston Celtics+240+260
Toronto Raptors+600+2000
Washington Wizards+1600+1200
Philadelphia 76ers+3300+2500
Milwaukee Bucks+3300+2000
Detroit Pistons+5000+4000
Miami Heat+6600+3000
Indiana Pacers+10000+8000
Charlotte Hornets+15000+7000
New York Knicks+20000+10000

Odds as of January 18 at Bovada