Sports betting is often about two things — withstanding the current moment
and projecting what is to come. It is incredibly difficult to not get swept up
in the ongoing drama of sports, no matter which league you’re talking about.
When it’s the NBA, it’s only magnified.
If a team is struggling, they’re toast. If you’re not a title contender now,
you probably won’t be for the remainder of the year.
It can be that cut and dry, but in the case of the 2019-20
Raptors, I’m not so sure it is. Kyle Lowry and company may have proven that
on Wednesday, with the team edging out the Hornets in an overtime thriller,
This, on the heels of a back-breaking home loss to a last-second Carmelo
That displayed Toronto’s trademark resilience, even in the face of a laundry
list of injuries. The latest being star guard Fred VanVleet, who was added to a
pile that consists of names like Marc Gasol, Pascal Siakam, and Norman Powell.
Toronto isn’t the championship team everyone saw last year, but they also
aren’t a trash heap. Despite their mangled roster, the Raptors keep competing
every single night and doing whatever they need to in order to win.
It’s been so impressive that it’s quite arguable the NBA needs to be wary of
this team getting healthy.
State of the Toronto Raptors
As things stand, the Raptors are in a surprisingly great spot. Toronto stands
in with a strong 25-13 record and is just 1.5 games back from first place in the
The Raptors also own the fourth-best record in the Eastern Conference.
They’re down 2-1 in the season series with the
Celtics but don’t have that fateful fourth meeting until March 20th.
Toronto has also held serve against the other elite teams in the conference,
splitting their two meetings with the
Philadelphia 76ers and falling in overtime in one of their showdowns with
They’ve done this at less than full strength when most teams would crumble
into oblivion. Nick Nurse had done an amazing job, while veterans in Kyle Lowry
and Serge Ibaka have taken on massive roles and responded exactly the way
they’ve needed to.
What bettors need to wonder about is how good they could be once
they’re healthy again.
Assessing Toronto’s Injuries
As the Raptors stand, they’re in trouble when you look at the rest of the
season. I think the coaching, system, and veteran play would keep them in the
playoff hunt, but nobody can realistically expect them to maintain things
At some point, Toronto needs reinforcements. They need to get some of their
guys back. So far, they’ve had the luxury of winning on the fly, so they’ve been
able to play it safe with their injured stars and avoid rushing them back too
The two big ones are Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet. FVV was just a key role
player during Toronto’s title run, but that was in name only. I’m not sure the
Raptors beat the Warriors without him, and that isn’t an exaggeration.
FVV is necessary for their high-level success. The good news is while his
injury is somewhat serious, it shouldn’t keep him out too long. Nobody knows
just how long, but VanVleet returning within the month probably isn’t
Sounds like VanVleet's hamstring injury is more serious than just a 1-game, day-to-day thing. Nurse indicates it could be "a little while".
Then there’s Siakam, who has been sidelined since December 18th.
The Raptors have not been shy to admit that he’s still “a ways away.” Dealing
with a troublesome groin strain, it’s unclear exactly what that means for
My guess is he’s out for most of January and perhaps makes his return
following the All-Star break. There hasn’t been much speculation that he’d be
shut down, so there remains realistic optimism that he’ll be back and 100% for
the stretch run.
Norman Powell is nearing a return, while Marc Gasol may only be slightly
behind him in his own groin strain recovery.
Overall, Toronto is slowly trending in the right direction from a health
perspective, but it’s clear that they’ll need to hold down the fort for at least
a little while longer.
Betting on the Toronto Raptors
Even if they get healthy, this never felt like a team that was going to
repeat as NBA champions.
Their inability to stay healthy certainly raises questions, but the Raptors
still have to contend with some good teams in their conference — not to mention
perhaps the best team in the NBA in the Milwaukee Bucks.
Toronto offers pretty nice value as a +2500 champion bet, but that’s not a
wager I like at all. They’ll be in the playoffs, though, and I do think they
still have a real shot at winning their division.
The Raptors need to get healthy to make that happen. But even until they do,
the road ahead is pretty appealing. In the next two weeks alone, they face the
Spurs, Thunder, Wizards, Timberwolves, Hawks, 76ers, and Knicks.
Five of those seven games are against teams that have losing records and/or
are just flat-out bad. Toronto then finishes January with games against the
Spurs, Hawks, Cavs, and Pistons.
It’s an easy month that should allow Toronto to keep their head above water
and remain within striking distance of the Atlantic Division.
All things considered, Toronto is a very nice value bet to win this division
(+400 at BetOnline).
If they can tread water and get their guys back in time, I think they’re a
worthwhile flier bet to do just that.
Noah Davis is one of the more diverse writers at GamblingSites.com. Like many of his colleagues, he's a huge fan of both football and basketball. But he also writes about box office records, TV show prop bets, DFS, and all kinds of other subjects.
When it comes to the NFL, Noah's favorite team is the Cleveland Browns. He enjoys cheering them on with his wife and daughter.