Sports Betting

Raptors Rally to Secure First Appearance in NBA Finals, Will Face Favored Warriors Starting Thursday

Once again, Toronto needed a rally, but once again the Raptors got it. After beating Milwaukee 100-94 Saturday, they earned the franchise’s first trip to the NBA Finals.

The Toronto Raptors won the first Eastern Conference title in the team’s 24-year history Saturday night when they beat the Milwaukee Bucks 100-94. The Raptors advance to the NBA Finals, which start Thursday, to face the Golden State Warriors. (Image: Toronto Raptors/NBA)

After falling 0-2 to start the Eastern Conference finals, Toronto had odds of +650 from DraftKings to win it. They reeled off four straight wins against Milwaukee to do that. In Saturday’s Game 6, they used a 26-3 second-half run to take control of the game.

The Raptors will face Golden State in the Finals and hold home-court advantage in the series. Currently, some oddsmakers have them as a slight favorite over the Warriors for Game 1.

The initial lines Saturday night put the Warriors as a 1-point favorite. However, throughout Sunday morning and afternoon, some of the books transitioned from Golden State being a slight favorite to the Raptors giving a point.

Atlantis, MGM, and FanDuel listed the hosts as the one-point favorite. Caesars, CG Technology, Golden Nugget, SouthPoint, Stations, Treasure Island, Westgate SuperBook, William Hill, and Wyn Resorts listed the game as even.

The game will tip off Thursday night at 9 pm ET. ABC will broadcast the game.

Warriors Favored in Series

While there’s uncertainty about the first game, the books still consider the upstart Raptors a series underdog against a Warriors team seeking their third straight NBA title and fourth in five seasons.

FanDuel lists the Warriors as -350 favorites to win the best-of-seven series, giving the Raptors +220 odds. PointsBet offers the Warriors at -304 and the Raptors at +220. DraftKings, meanwhile, gives the Warriors -315 odds to the Raptors +250. As of Sunday, the SuperBook offers the Warriors at -300, while the Raptors are at +240.

According to Caesars Palace, oddsmakers there expect the Warriors to win in six games, as they offer +250 odds on that series prop bet. The Warriors in five gets +350 odds, while a Golden State sweep and a seven-game victory both get +450.

Caesars offers the Raptors in seven at +550, while a Raptors sweep would garner +2500.

Finals matchup: Raptors vs. Warriors

This year’s NBA Finals appears to be a matchup of offense versus defense. The Warriors enter the finals averaging a playoff-best 117.3 points per game. The Raptors defense, though, has allowed just 99.6 a game. That ranks second behind only the Indiana Pacers, who were eliminated in the first round.

The Raptors are led by Kawhi Leonard, who was traded to Toronto in the offseason from San Antonio. Some say Leonard, who won a ring with the Spurs five years ago, is becoming the league’s best player. His playoff stats seem to make a compelling argument.

In 18 postseason games this year, he’s averaging 31.2 points and 8.8 rebounds a game. In the clincher against Milwaukee, Leonard posted 27 points and a career-high 17 rebounds. That included a key offensive rebound off a missed free throw with 4.5 seconds to secure the Raptors first finals berth.

I just want to win,” Leonard said after Saturday’s win. “I don’t care about being the best player. I want to be the best team. I’ve always said that.”

The Warriors still are missing both DeMarcus Cousins and Kevin Durant, although it’s possible both might return at some point in the series. However, ever since Durant went down with a strained calf late in Game 5 of the Houston series, the Warriors have reeled off five straight wins.

In those five games, all wins, Steph Curry has averaged 35.8 points a game for the Warriors and shot nearly 42 percent from the 3-point arc.

Steve Bittenbender

Horse Racing, Sports Betting, Gaming Legislation, Midwest and Gulfport Casinos----Steve Bittenbender is a veteran reporter, and brings more than two decades of experience covering sports, gaming business, and politics and legislation to Casino.org, which he joined in 2019. Based in Louisville, Kentucky -- the epicenter of the US horse racing industry -- Steve has also covered major collegiate and professional sports for the Associated Press and the Louisville Courier Journal, and is frequently featured on local network TV newscasts and podcasts for his horse racing business and legislative expertise. A Reuters contributor, he has also previously served as editor for Government Security News. Steve lives with his wife and son, and is an avid poker player, having learned from his uncle as a wholesome after-school pasttime with cookies and milk. Email: stevebittenbender@casino.org

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