Three teams expected to battle it out for the NBA Eastern Conference Championship are experiencing first-round skirmishes much more difficult than they expected. Instead of bowling over their opponents, Toronto, Cleveland, and Boston are all tied 2-2 in their best-of-seven series with teams they were heavily favored to defeat.

Toronto, Washington
The first-round playoff series between Toronto and Washington is proving more competitive and scrappier than oddsmakers anticipated. (Image: USA Today)

Instead Milwaukee, Indiana, and Washington decided that they would make the road to the next round much more arduous. They are providing to be quite the thorn for the three favorites.

Washington Wizards guard John Wall told reporters after his team defeated Toronto, 106-98, that they are confident they can pull off the upset.

“We know what we can do to beat this team,” Wall said. “We know what we got to do to stop this team.”

Washington Challenging Top Team

The Wizards were not given much of a chance to take down the No. 1 seed in the East. Toronto opened as a -650 to win the series, while the Wizards were at +500. When the Raptors blew out Washington, 122-103, in the opener, they jumped to -800. They almost doubled after the second victory to -1500.

Then the Wizards took the next two games at home and the odds starting trending in their favor. They went from a +975 to a +550 after the third game, and the odds went to +270 now that the two teams are tied.

Toronto was second to Cleveland as the top pick in the Eastern Conference to win the NBA Championship. Before the playoffs the Cavaliers were 8/1, while the Raptors were 19/2, according to Bovada. Now the two teams are even at 15/1 and the Philadelphia 76ers are the top pick in the East at 12/1. Philadelphia is the only team in that conference that isn’t tied. They lead Miami, 3-1 and can close out the series on Tuesday.

Milwaukee Evens Series

The Bucks were another team that wasn’t given much of a chance to upset No. 2 Boston. Milwaukee, however, has won the last two games to tie their matchup at two games apiece.

The Celtics had injury concerns, with top players Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward lost for the year. They were still expected to beat the Bucks, who fired Coach Jason Kidd in January, and have been using assistant Joe Punty as the interim head coach.

Boston began as a -175 to win and moved slightly to -170 after the first victory. After their second consecutive win the team went to -330. That line started to drop after the Bucks won the third game, falling to -190. When Milwaukee won a thrilling game on Sunday, the line fell again to -120.

Cleveland in Trouble Against Indiana

LeBron James is in jeopardy of doing something for the first time in his career — lose a first-round playoff series. The Cavaliers superstar is 10-0 in opening rounds, but is facing a serious threat with Indiana.

He already saw his string of 21 consecutive first-round games snapped when the Pacers won Game 1, 98-80. Cleveland was -650 to win the series before it began, but after the loss saw the line plummet to -195. It went back up to -315 after the Cavaliers won the second game.

When Indiana won the third game, the line tightened considerably. The Pacers went to -105 to Cleveland’s -115. With the Cavaliers winning on Sunday the odds went to -360.

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