Duke player dunking the ball

NBA Championship outright odds (As of May 29)

Toronto Raptors: 3.25
Golden State Warriors: 1.33


The Toronto Raptors can make history by becoming the first Canadian team to win the NBA Championship – and a surge of bettors are hoping to cash in on that.

The Raptors punched their ticket to the NBA Finals with a come-from-behind victory over the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final on Saturday. Since then, more than 90 per cent of bets on the NBA Championship outright market have come in on the Raptors, who face the dynasty Golden State Warriors for the title.

It goes beyond just the total number of bets.

From Saturday night – immediately following Game 6 – to Monday afternoon, a total of $9,918 had been wagered on the Raptors to win the NBA Championship, compared to a meagre $654 dollars on the Warriors.

It’s not surprising that there has been an increase in bets on the Raptors, given the marketplace. The Raptors have over these past several weeks captured the attention of basketball fans in Vancouver and throughout B.C.

That there is a greater than 90 per cent share of bets and 93 per cent share of money wagered on the Raptors since they advanced to the Final is very intriguing because it’s not like they’re playing another first-time finalist or a team that hasn’t been to this stage in a long time.

The Warriors, as mentioned earlier, are a dynasty.

Five straight years, the Warriors have been to the NBA Finals. They have won the championship in three of four years. They advanced to this year’s final by sweeping the Portland Trail Blazers in the third round, having already dispatched the Houston Rockets in Round Two.

The Raptors enter this matchup as the underdogs, with odds of 3.25 to win the championship compared to Golden State’s odds of 1.30 at PlayNow.com.

Toronto did have success against Golden State earlier in the year. In fact, the Raptors swept the regular season series, going 2-0 against the Warriors. It’s worth pointing out that in their first matchup of the year, back on Nov. 29, the Warriors were without Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and DeMarcus Cousins.

One of the biggest questions going into this series is the status and health of Kevin Durant for the Warriors. He has missed the last five games with a calf injury, and was officially declared out for Game 1 on Thursday.

The Warriors are a deep team and ultimately didn’t seem fazed by Durant’s absence in the third round versus Portland. Will that continue on into this round if Durant misses any further time beyond the series opener.

When it comes to the NBA Finals MVP, Stephen Curry is the favourite right now to win that award, with odds of 1.66 at PlayNow.com. This has essentially become a two-person race, with Kawhi Leonard now with odds of 3.45 to win NBA Finals MVP.

Leonard has been the driving force behind the Raptors’ run this postseason.

He is now second in the league with 31.2 points per game in these playoffs and he was utterly dominant against the Bucks. His dunk late in the fourth quarter to increase Toronto’s lead in Game 6 versus Milwaukee will be one of the iconic images of these playoffs.

There is speculation he may be dealing with a knee issue heading into this series. The Raptors managed his minutes throughout the season, and it will be interesting to see what – if any – impact the wear-and-tear of the postseason has on his play over these next several days.

Toronto is once again going to need Kawhi Leonard to lead the way, as the Raptors look to add another chapter in what is already a historic postseason for Canada’s lone NBA franchise.

One thing is certain: #WeTheNorth bettors are hoping to cash in on history.

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