Raptors Out To Silence Shaq
“Toronto is getting swept, write it down.”
The harsh words of NBA Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal when analysing the Raptors’ first round chances against the Philadelphia 76ers will have ruffled a few feathers in the Toronto camp, and with good reason.
After all, it is fifth seed against fourth, and with the Raptors tasting NBA glory when romping to the 2019 NBA championship as recently as 2019, they also know how to navigate these crunch encounters.
During that triumphant season, Toronto also clinched a famous 4-3 series victory over the Sixers at the semi-final stage with Kawhi Leonard beating the buzzer in the most dramatic of fashion.
If Shaq and his backers were to accuse the Raptors of living on past glories, there is also the fact that they are 3-1 against the 76ers in the regular season with an 11 point advantage in that run.
Keen to not let the Shaq Daddy make such predictions unchallenged, fellow NBA royalty in Charles Barkley leapt to the defence of the Raptors.
“I know people here in the States don’t get to see Toronto play a lot,” the 1993 NBA MVP claimed. “But they in my opinion got the best rookie, his name is Scottie Barnes. He is fantastic.”
Speaking of Barnes, the Bodog NBA odds board is full of parlays for basketball bettors to sink their teeth into, such as the +1200 available on the 20-year old to score 25+ points in Philadelphia this weekend to inspire a crucial opening Raptors victory.
Nick Nurse guided his troops to 48 wins this regular season, with only nine sides managing more across the entire franchise. Sure, one of those was the 76ers, but an 8-2 winning record in their last ten outings will give Pascal Siakam and co confidence heading into Saturday’s opening showdown.
Siakam is surely to be central to the Raptors’ chances of getting off to a winning start, with the Cameroonian star priced at +278 to record 30+ points and 5+ assists during game one.
The 28-year old has also been priced at +20000 in the NBA 2022 Finals MVP odds, a price which may shorten considerably the further the Raptors progress.
Looking capable of wasting an impressive season from MVP hopeful Joel Embiid, Philly have got their act together at just the right time with James Harden forming a formidable partnership with Embiid.
With both players on the court in the regular season, the Sixers outscored their points by a stunning 15.9 points per 100 possessions, ranking in fifth among the 719 two-man combinations that played at least 500 minutes.
On the flip side, Toronto have recovered from a lacklustre season opening record of 14-17 to post a winning 34-17 since the turn of the calendar year. That run can boast a 7-2 record against the top four teams in the Eastern Conference, which of course includes two wins over the 76ers when both Embiid and Harden have been on the court.
Expect this series to follow a similar pattern in terms of gameplay, with the Raptors swarming the Sixers whenever they get anywhere near the paint.
Toronto Raptors NBA Season Props
Despite the promising numbers mentioned, the Sixers are in fact the favourites to progress from the first round at Bodog Sportsbook.
Would it be a shock to see Toronto upset the odds? Absolutely not. They have proven they belong on this stage and are very capable of making many doubters – none more so than O’Neal – eat their words.
Can Canada’s finest repeat their 2019 heroics? Let’s take a look at their ‘Stage of Elimination’ odds and see how far you have got them going.
Lose in the 1st Round: -185
Lose in the Conference Semi-Finals: +280
Lose in the Conference Finals: +400
Lose in the NBA Finals: +4000
Win the NBA Championship: +8000
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