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Toronto Raptors Betting Outlook
Eastern Conference Odds: +1400
Preseason NBA Championship Odds: +4600
The Raptors continue to lose players from their 2019 NBA championship squad, with big men Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol exiting prior to the 2020-21 season. Toronto still has Kyle Lowry, Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet, as well as a number of other players from the title run. The chemistry under coach Nick Nurse is also solid, with the Raptors continuing to be one of the best defensive teams in the league.
The Raptors enter the 2020-21 season fighting to stay among the Eastern Conference contenders despite their personnel losses. Toronto has become guard-oriented in its offense, though Siakam will continue to be a threat on the interior as well as the wing. The Raptors will definitely be in the playoff mix, but there is likely to be a bit of a dropoff from the past two seasons because of the frontcourt losses.
Raptors 2021 Predictions
Regular-Season Record: 46-26
Conference Standing: Sixth
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Kyle Lowry is entering his ninth season as the Raptors’ point guard, and his attitude on both ends of the floor sets the tone. Lowry is a dogged defender, willing to give up his body to draw charges against anyone on the opposition. He is also a lethal scorer when he gets hot, able to hit from 3-point range or drive into the teeth of a defense. Lowry is the undisputed leader of the Raptors, having gone through the hard times of the franchise on the way to the 2019 title.
In four seasons, Pascal Siakam has established himself as one of the more versatile power forwards.The 26-year-old is coming off a career year, with personal highs in scoring, rebounding, assists, steals and blocks. Siakam is the Raptors’ top low-post scorer, but he can also create on the wing and is lethal on the fast break. If Toronto is going to contend for an NBA title again, it will be Siakam’s continued development that will get it there.
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Toronto Raptors Team History
The Toronto Raptors joined the NBA as an expansion franchise for the 1995-96 season, one of two teams joining the league (with the Vancouver Grizzlies) as it expanded into Canada. NBA legend Isiah Thomas was the team’s first general manager, naming long-time Detroit Pistons assistant coach Brendan Malone as the team’s first head coach.
The team selected Arizona guard Damon Stoudamire as its first draft pick, which proved to be a good one, as Stoudamire averaged 19 points and 9.3 assists on his way to being selected the NBA’s Rookie of the Year. Unfortunately, despite adding Marcus Camby with the No. 2 overall pick in 1996, team success didn’t come for the Raptors, as they failed to finish .500 or make the postseason in the franchise’s first four seasons.
There was a spark in 1998-99, as the Raptors selected Antawn Jamison with the No. 4 pick, then shipped his rights to Golden State for the rights to the No. 5 pick, guard Vince Carter. The electric Carter created numerous highlights as soon as he hit the floor and earned the Rookie of the Year award.
By the 1999-2000 season, many of the franchise’s early stars had been traded away, with Carter surrounded by players like Tracy McGrady, Dell Curry, Antonio Davis and Charles Oakley. Under head coach Butch Carter, the Raptors made the playoffs for the first time, falling in the first round.
Butch Carter was replaced with Lenny Wilkens prior to the 2000-01 season. Toronto won a franchise-record 47 games, making the postseason again and winning their first playoff series before falling to the Philadelphia 76ers in seven games in the Eastern Conference semifinals. The following season saw another playoff appearance, but Vince Carter was hurt before the All-Star break and missed the rest of the season, and the Raptors lost in the first round.
The team struggled with injuries and losing seasons, with Carter being dealt away after being unhappy with the team’s direction. The Raptors did select Chris Bosh with the No. 4 pick in the 2003 draft, giving the team a young star to try to build around. Under coach Sam Mitchell, the Raptors finally got back to the postseason in 2006-07 and again in 2007-08, but suffered first-round losses in each appearance.
The team sank under .500 in each of the next two seasons, though it was able to draft DeMar DeRozan with the No. 9 pick in the 2008 Draft. Bosh shook things up when he left as a free agent to the Miami Heat prior to the 2010-11 season.
The Raptors were left to rebuild, which they did, hiring Dwane Casey as head coach prior to 2011-12. In the 2011 draft, the team selected center Jonas Valanciunas with the No. 5 pick, and in the 2012 offseason, Toronto traded for point guard Kyle Lowry from Houston.
Behind the play of Lowry and DeRozan, Toronto returned to the postseason in 2013-14, starting a string of six straight seasons in the playoffs. After a pair of first-round exits, the Raptors reached a new level in 2015-16, advancing to the Eastern Conference finals before falling to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Toronto was swept in the Eastern Conference semifinals the next two seasons by the Cavaliers, leading the team to let Casey go despite him winning the NBA’s Coach of the Year award in 2017-18. Nick Nurse took over as head coach, moving up from his assistant coach position.
The Raptors also made a big trade in the 2018 offseason, sending DeRozan to the San Antonio Spurs for disgruntled forward Kawhi Leonard and guard Danny Green. During the 2018-19 season, the Raptors traded Valanciunas and two other players to Memphis for center Marc Gasol.
The big moves paid off, as Toronto advanced to the NBA Finals for the first time in 2019, winning the franchise’s first NBA title with a series victory over the Golden State Warriors. Unfortunately, some of the euphoria over the championship faded in the offseason with news that Leonard was leaving the team as a free agent to join the LA Clippers.
Two players that have spent time with the Toronto franchise are in the Basketball Hall of Fame: McGrady and Hakeem Olajuwon. Former Raptors head coach Wilkens is also inducted into the Hall.
The defending NBA champion Raptors had a few personnel changes entering the 2019-20 campaign, with Leonard and Danny Green both departing as free agents. Despite that, much of the championship squad was back, and the Raptors were considered a title contender, jumping out to a 15-4 start. Pascal Siakam emerged as the team’s leading scorer, and a 15-game winning streak from January to February put Toronto at 40-14.
The Raptors were 46-18 when the league was forced to suspend the season due to the coronavirus pandemic in March. Toronto was hot in the restart in the Orlando bubble, winning seven of its eight regular-season games, then sweeping the Brooklyn Nets in the first round of the postseason. In a classic Eastern Conference semifinal series with Boston, the second-seeded Raptors rallied from a 2-0 deficit to force a Game 7 before falling to the Celtics, 92-87, in the series finale.
Nick Nurse enters his third season at the helm of the Toronto Raptors in 2020-21, the only NBA head coaching job he’s held. Nurse began his coaching career in 1989-90 as an assistant at Northern Iowa, then moved up to various assistant and head coaching jobs in college and minor professional leagues. Nurse was named the head coach of the Iowa Energy of the NBA D-League in 2007, leading the team to the D-League Championship in 2011.
Nurse moved on to the Rio Grande Vipers and coached that team to the D-League title in 2013. Following the championship season, Nurse joined the Raptors as an assistant coach to Dwane Casey. When Casey was fired following the 2017-18 campaign, Nurse was promoted to head coach. In his two seasons as the Raptors coach, Nurse has a record of 111-43 in the regular season and 23-12 in the playoffs, including the 2019 NBA title.
Aron Baynes, center, Phoenix Suns
Deandre’ Bembry, forward, Atlanta Hawks
Yuta Watanabe, forward, Memphis Grizzlies
Marc Gasol, center, Los Angeles Lakers
Serge Ibaka, center, LA Clippers
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, forward
Malachi Flynn, guard, San Diego State
Jalen Harris, guard, Nevada
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