- BetOnline’s updated odds have the Raptors (-125) as the new favorites in the Atlantic
- Jayson Tatum’s superstar turn has the Celtics (+125) just 1.5-games back of the division lead
- Boston and Toronto have similar strengths-of-schedule down the stretch and play only once more this year
Betting against the 76ers has proved profitable this season. We took the Celtics at +350 in our preseason division preview and then jumped at a prime hedging opportunity with the Raptors at +500 just last month.
With Philadelphia (+1000) now trailing in the Atlantic by six games, one of our tickets will cash. The question now is whether Toronto (-125) will be able to hold on to their 1.5-game lead over Boston with about a quarter of the season still to play.
Let’s examine the latest odds at BetOnline and place our bets.
NBA ATLANTIC DIVISION ODDS
|Team||Current Odds||Trending||Jan. 15, 2020|
Basketball’s most-prized pending free-agent might be Raptors president Masai Ujiri, who’s signed through the 2020-21 season. Losing last year’s NBA Finals MVP hasn’t been nearly as disastrous to the NBA champions as many thought it would be thanks to Masai’s handiwork.
According to FiveThirtyEight, undrafted free agents such as Fred VanVleet, Chris Boucher and Terence Davis have combined for 12.2 of the Raptors’ 41.1 total Win Shares so far this season (best in the league).
Pascal Siakam says the Raptors aren’t concerned about the strength of their schedule because they know what to do come playoff time. ? pic.twitter.com/JOsDh1xtk7
— TSN (@TSN_Sports) February 22, 2020
Those numbers don’t even include the contributions of Pascal Siakam, who Ujiri stole at No. 27 overall in the 2016 draft. Following the 25-year-old forward’s return from a groin injury last month, Toronto immediately went on a 15-game win streak.
The Raptors lost to Milwaukee on Tuesday night and have two more games against the league-leading Bucks this season. However, the Celts are in the same boat and actually have a slightly tougher strength-of-schedule (.509 to .500) down the stretch.
The story out of Boston has been the emergence of third-year forward Jayson Tatum, who’s averaging seven more points per game (23.1) than last season after a 41-point performance against LeBron and the Lakers on Sunday.
Thanks to the superstar play of the No. 3 pick in the 2017 NBA draft, the Celtics have won ten of their past 12 games and sit only 1.5-games back of Toronto.
Jayson Tatum’s February
25 PTS vs PHI
28 PTS @ ATL
33 PTS vs ORL
32 PTS vs ATL
26 PTS @ OKC
15 PTS @ HOU
39 PTS vs LAC
28 PTS @ MIN
41 PTS @ LAL
36 PTS @ POR
30 POINTS PER GAME pic.twitter.com/mjRCrNxLZF
— Celtics Dynasty (@CelticsDynasty_) February 26, 2020
Boston leads the season series with the Raps 2-1, but the clubs’ final meeting will occur north of the border on March 20th.
Given they have a deeper, more-talented roster, Brad Stevens’ club is the slightly better bet to win the Atlantic at +125, however, Kemba Walker’s knee injury could throw a wrench into things.
While there’s still over a quarter of the season still to play, this divisional race will likely come down to the last week.
Bet with your heart and be thankful you didn’t take the Sixers.
Best bet: Celtics (+125)