In a sense, the Toronto Raptors have always been underdogs. Stationed north of the border in what was perceived as basketball Siberia for decades, the Raptors have finally gained the respect of the NBA in the Eastern Conference finals after topping the Cleveland Cavaliers twice at home.
It shouldn't surprise anyone to learn that the Raps remain huge underdogs as the series shifts back to Northeast Ohio. According to our NBA odds page, the Dinos have opened as 10-point dogs for Game 5.
Based on recent performance alone, I'm going to assume they won't have a problem with that. Head coach Dwane Casey has been preaching an "us against the world" mentality throughout the playoffs and it's clearly working. Toronto vs. Cleveland was a David vs. Goliath matchup from the start, but the Raptors -- a team that's on the wrong end of jokes as often as Reggie Miller bungles players' names -- were written off by many before Game 1 even tipped off.
When it comes to series prices, it's painfully obvious sports books do not expect Toronto to stand a chance. Offshore books have tabbed the Raptors with a +850 shot to advance to the NBA Finals, while the Cavs' price comes in at a staggeringly high -1250.
That means a $100 bet on Toronto to win the series pays out $850, but that same wager on the wine and gold will net you a measly $8. Even for the Raptors, that's some serious disrespect.
As of May 24, Kyle Lowry and company were major outsiders in championship odds. Take a look for yourself:
The Raps have defied the odds to get to this point. They weren't supposed to be here, and they sure as hell weren't supposed to actually challenge the big bad Cavs. Twenty-one years of pain and suffering have led up to this. Let's enjoy the ride.