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Raptors Title Defense Begins in Earnest

After defying the odds to win their first-ever NBA championship in 2019, the Toronto Raptors will begin their playoff campaign today in a first-round matchup against the Brooklyn Nets.

After losing starting shooting guard Danny Green and 2019 NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard in free agency, most basketball insiders overlooked the Raptors and did not consider them to be a serious contender for back-to-back titles. The Raps, led by six-time All-Star Kyle Lowry, were able to leverage their depth and “next man up” mentality to weather an injury-plagued 2019-20 season and finish with their best-ever winning percentage, good for the second seed in the Eastern Conference and second-best record in the NBA.

The lengthy coronavirus shutdown has given the regulars some much-needed time to rest and recover from injuries and overall wear and tear. After NBA action resumed in the Disneyland bubble, the Raptors went 7-1 in the playoff seeding games, defeating the championship favorite Los Angeles Lakers.

Game 1 of the Raptors’ first round matchup will tip off at 4 PM ET today against the seventh-seeded Brooklyn Nets. The Raps are -585 favorites according to the CanPlay online casino betting line, but longtime Toronto fans have measured expectations for the first game given the team’s history in past Game 1 matchups. You can watch on ESPN in the USA or Rogers SportsNet/SportsNet NOW (streaming) in Canada.