No team in the Eastern Conference, except for maybe the Boston Celtics, is as close to building something really ridiculously special as the Toronto Raptors. They are already nipping at the Cleveland Cavaliers’ heels, and if they can keep this current core intact while continuing to add great supporting contributors, they’ll remain fixtures in the Eastern Conference futures conversation for a while. The Raptors are also that team now, of course. If you’re betting Eastern Conference futures, and the Cavaliers’ odds just aren’t worth your time, the Raptors are a viable threat to their throne. [+]

There is a chance, even if it’s truly only a slight one, that they upset the Cavaliers this season and make it out of the Eastern Conference.

That doesn’t mean you should start investing in championship plays, nor should you be throwing money down on Eastern Conference futures without acknowleding the risk.

But there is no more intriuging option outside Cleveland than Toronto, and that’s ample cause to keep the Raptors a part of your NBA betting rotation for the foreseeable future.

Who Do The Toronto Raptors Play Next

Look at the Raptors’ next game. It has not only their opponent, but the relevant moneylines, spreads, overs and unders. Let it be your guiding light, helping structure your betting strategy. [+]

Upon seeing the numbers released, first figure out where the Raptors’ opponent is best, offense or defense. If they’re incredible on both sides, consider passing on over/under and spread bets for moneyline plays. If the team is exceptional in only one or neither area, that’s when you’ll want to broaden your scope to include all three possible avenues.

My Team's Next MatchToronto Raptors

Toronto Raptors Game Schedule

This is the Raptors’ entire schedule. It’s super resourceful, as it lets you plan some of your bets ahead. It also encourages you to look back at the Raptors’ past performances. Monitor winning and losing streaks that may impact your betting, and be sure to check out how they have fared against current and imminent opponents earlier in the season.

Results / FixturesToronto Raptors

Toronto Raptors Standings Today

These standings for the Raptors are understatedly important. While they are very clearly the second best team in the Eastern Conference, making it so you don’t have to worry about their playoff seed changing, the area below them is constantly in flux. [+]

Make sure you’re up to date on their most likely first round opponents, and then use that to your advantage when concocting a postseason betting blueprint.

On another note, though, view the standings to see if the Raptors have a chance at catching the Cavaliers for first place. That race for first place affects their possible playoff matchups as well.

To be sure, it’s not especially likely that they’ll supersede Cleveland in the standings, so don’t get to crazy about it. But it’s definitely a situation on which you should definitely remain on top.

StandingsToronto Raptors

How To Make Money Betting On Toronto Raptors

Here is the dirty, not so little secret about the Raptors: Their place in the Eastern Conference, for years to come, will be determined this summer, through free agency, and possibly via trades.

DeMar DeRozan is set to enter free agency, and losing him would set the Raptors back, unless they have a superior contingency plan in place. And while keeping him is theoretically easy, since they can offer him more money and years than any other team, it's a tough decision. He has yet to prove he can headline a contender; that's Kyle Lowry's job in Toronto. And yet re-signing him would cost the Raptors more than twice what they're paying Lowry per season right now.

To be absolutely certain, this is not a matter of doom and gloom. The Raptors, like many other teams in the NBA, are going to have a ton of cap space. They might even get in on the Kevin Durant free agency sweepstakes. If they can add another transcendent talent to Lowry, and potentially DeRozan, their stock will continue trending in the right direction, rendering them good Eastern Conference futures plays and win total over and under bets.

Realistically, the Raptors even have enough ammo in the chamber to pull off a blockbuster trade. Jonas Valanciunas is on one steal of a contract, and if they pair him with Terrence Ross' modestly priced deal, in addition to a first round pick, they could find themselves slinging a might fine package for stars such as Marc Gasol, who is done for the season with a broken foot but should be good to go next year, or DeMarcus Cousins, whose days with the Sacramento Kings appear to be over.

Really, then, the Raptors are in a total position of strength and power. Assuming they play their cards right over the offseason, they should enter the 2016-17 campaign as one of the East's very few favorites—an ideal betting play both for futures and individual games.

Is It A Good Idea To Trust The Raptors Defense?

Trusting the Raptors' defense is a mistake at this point in the season. While they have hovered around the top 10 in points allowed per 100 possessions, they aren't a team you can lean on for success stories playing the under.

Their offense is far more polished, and they are ill equipped to stop fellow offensive juggernauts. So when they're pitted against such teams, ride with the over.

On a more consistent basis, the Raptors are an over investment more than they are an under one. But that's not foolproof. Same goes for their performance against spreads.

Though it can be difficult to accept, the Raptors are most useful as a moneyline gambit.

Choosing them as underdogs against a team declared superior can have its advantages, so long as you pick your spot.

As a reliable performer durings games in which they're favored, the Raptors can also help anchor any parlays you wish to build.