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Should injuries impact how you bet on the Raptors?

With three key players sidelined indefinitely, does this mean Toronto is a different team? How does it affect the Raps’ futures? We break it all down.

Toronto Raptors guard Lorenzo Brown celebrates scoring a basket with forward Pascal Siakam and forward Norman Powell during the fourth quarter against the Dallas Mavericks at Scotiabank Arena. Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

The Toronto Raptors got a bombshell of an injury report Thursday night. Not only did they rule out Marc Gasol (hamstring) and Norman Powell (shoulder) for the immediate future, but also their best player in Pascal Siakam (groin).

With all three sidelined, Toronto is very thin in its rotation and will have to lean on veterans like Kyle Lowry and Serga Ibaka, plus younger role players in Chris Boucher and Terence Davis. With all this news hitting the defending champs, it makes placing bets on them in the short-term a bit difficult. For that reason, we’re going to go over whether or not it may be wise to bet against the Raptors with all the injuries, and how this affects some futures betting on DraftKings Sportsbook.

Raptors vs. Wizards betting analysis

The most immediate advice I can provide is on Friday night’s contest between the Raptors and the Washington Wizards. Toronto is at home against a usually inferior Wizards squad that can’t play defense. The line had opening at Raptors -6 and has been bet up to -7 early in the AM. This basically means the public doesn’t view the injuries as that impactful and Toronto is a good team and should win at home.

I tend to agree here, but I worry a bit about the Raptors depth in a game like this. Lowry has been OK shooting from outside since returning from injury, but needs to be more aggressive on offense with no Siakam or Powell. Fred VanVleet (knee) may return, which would help ease the pressure on Lowry. But if not, I’m interested to see how he performs. Still, the Wizards are the least efficient defensive team and if nothing else the Raptors are still a very capable unit on defense. I think unless the spread gets super high (double-digits or more), it’s safe to take Toronto at home.

Raptors to win Eastern Conference: +700

The Raptors currently have the fourth-best odds to win the Conference at +700. In my eyes, it wasn’t a bad bet at this point in the season given how Toronto was playing and its depth, but now the depth things is obviously an issue. Right now, the Raps are 19-8 and are 5.0 games back of the Milwaukee Bucks for first in the East. With a healthy roster, I’d say the task of unseating the Bucks was attainable (yet steep), but now it could be rough. Toronto has a brutal stretch coming up to end December: vs. DAL, @ IND, vs. BOS, @ BOS, vs. OKC, vs. CLE. Other than games against the Wiz and Cavaliers, that’s four playoff games essentially. If the Raps fall behind at all before the New Year, I don’t know if they can overtake the Celtics, 76ers and Heat ahead of them, plus the Bucks. What was once viewed as a value bet is probably worth fading.

Pascal Siakam player futures

There are two futures bets out on Siakam: MVP (+6600) and Most Improved Player (+700). realistically he would have had to lead the Raptors to first in the East and average around 28-30 points per game to win MVP. Giannis Antetokounmpo, LeBron James, James Harden and Anthony Davis are all far ahead of Siakam, plus Luka Doncic should be back soon. So we can ignore MVP talk. Most Improved Player is an award Siakam took home last season. Can he do it again? Many thought he was on his way. He averaged 16.9 PPG last season and is averaging 25.1 PPG so far in 2019-20. Siakam was most likely on his way to the All-Star game — and still might be — but it depends on how long he’ll be out. This hurts his odds to win MIP with Doncic looking like he’ll run away with it once he returns.