Los Angeles Lakers at Toronto Raptors Preview
As soon as LeBron James signed with the Los Angeles Lakers and Kawhi Leonard was traded to the Toronto Raptors, many thought those two teams were destined for the 2019 NBA Finals. The chances of that happen are now somewhere between slim and none, but we’ll see that matchup play out on TNT tonight as the Raptors host the banged-up, struggline Lakers.
While the Lakers won their most recent game, they are 31-36 on the season and 3-7 in their last 10. They are 11th in the Western Conference and seven games out of eighth place with just 15 games remaining. The Raptors are running out of time to close the gap on the Milwaukee Bucks. They are second in the Eastern Conference with a 48-20 record, three games behind the Bucks. They are 6-4 in their last 10 games and enter tonight’s home game having lost their most recent game.
The Lakers and Raptors haven’t met since November 4, when Toronto blew out the Lakers 121-107. Serge Ibaka led the Raptors in the game with 34 points, while Kyle Kuzma finished with 24 points for the Lakers.
Time: 8:00pm ET
Arena: Scotiabank Arena, Toronto, ON
Los Angeles Lakers Starting Lineup
The Los Angeles Lakers are on the road for the next four games, and they started their road trip in Chicago on Tuesday night with a much-needed 123-107 win. The Lakers struggled to start the game, scoring just 16 points while Chicago scored 34, but a strong second and third quarter gave them a good enough lead which allowed them to coast through the fourth quarter.
While the Los Angeles are on the outside looking in at the playoff picture in the West, Lakers star LeBron James said the next few games on the road trip will be like playoff games to the team.
“We have an opportunity. We go into Toronto our next game, we go into Detroit who’s a playoff team, we go into Milwaukee at the end of the trip. All playoff teams, all good teams.” James said. “Those games will be like playoff games if we want them to be.”
James had 36 points and 10 rebounds in the win against the Bulls. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had 24 points off the bench.
Kyle Kuzma returned to the lineup against Chicago and finished with 21 points.
Toronto Raptors Preview Starting Lineup
The Toronto Raptors had a two-game winning streak snapped on Monday night in a surprising blowout loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers, 101-126.
Cleveland scored over 30 points in the final three quarters, while Toronto only broke 30 points in the second quarter. The Raptors struggled to defend rookie guard Collin Sexton, who finished with 28 points, and forward Kevin Love gave the Cavs second-chance opportunities all night as he corraled 18 rebounds.
While the loss was a surprising one and ended up causing some minor injuries to several players, head coach Nick Nurse seems to be happy with how his team has handled the ups and downs of the season as they continue to get playoff-ready.
“I’ve been extremely happy with the way we’ve handled the flow of the season. Guys in, guys out, down games, comeback, take a tough loss, bounce back,” Nurse said. “Whatever those ebbs and flows of the season are, we’ve handled them really well, especially considering the amount of guys we’ve had out for long stretches.”
Aside from the defensive and rebounding issues against Cleveland, the Raptors also only had three players reach double digits in scoring, with Kawhi Leonard scoring 25, Pascal Siakam adding 15 and Kyle Lowry finishing with 14.
Los Angeles Lakers at Toronto Raptors Betting Odds
The Raptors are nine-point favorites to win tonight’s home games. Toronto is 27-7 at home and 40-14 as the favorite. The Lakers are 13-20 away from the Staples Center and 9-18 as the underdog.
The over/under is 232 points and the Raptors are -470 on the moneyline.