Last Updated: 2019-03-14
The Los Angeles Lakers (31-36; 27-39-1 ATS) finally snapped their skid, beating the Chicago Bulls 123-107 on the road this past Tuesday after five consecutive losses in a row. They will try to stay on the winning path but will have a tall task at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, as the Raptors (48-20; 28-39-1 ATS) are still battling for the top spot in the Eastern Conference. The hosts are coming off an upsetting 126-101 defeat at the Cleveland Cavaliers this past Monday and need to bounce back as soon as possible.
The Raptors thrashed off the Lakers 121-107 as 1.5-point road underdogs on November 4, 2018, in their first head-to-head duel of the season to record their eighth straight win over their tonight’s rivals.
The Lakers are struggling with injuries as Lonzo Ball (ankle) and Brandon Ingram (DVT in his arm) are done for the season, while Lance Stephenson (toe), Josh Hart (knee), and Tyson Chandler (neck) are all listed as questionable. The Raptors are still without Fred VanVleet (thumb), while Serge Ibaka is suspended due to his misconduct at Cleveland on Monday.
The Raptors opened as strong 10-point favorites with the total at 231.0 points and the Lakers at +445 money line odds. Both teams are struggling to cover this season, and the Raptors are 3-9 ATS in their last 12 games overall, while the Lakers are 2-10 ATS in their previous 12 outings. The Raptors are 8-0 straight up and 4-4 ATS in their last ten games when listed as double-digit favorites, while the Lakers are 1-7 straight up and 6-2 ATS in their last eight showings as double-digit dogs. The over is 8-4 in the Lakers’ last 12 games on the road, and it is 8-3 in Toronto’s last 11 contests overall.
What’s at Stake?
The Lakers will miss the playoffs for the sixth straight year, so they just play for the honor. On the other side, the Raptors are the No. 2 seed in the East three games behind Milwaukee and five games ahead of Indiana and Philadelphia. The hosts could catch up with the Bucks, so they certainly have a bigger motive here.
The Lakers are on a five-game journey, and after the clash with the Raptors, they will play back-to-back at Detroit Friday night. The Lakers are 2-5 straight up and 3-4 ATS on the front end off their last seven back-to-back sets. The Raptors will have a few days off before they visit the Pistons on Sunday afternoon.
The Lakers’ defensive job has been awful over the last few weeks, allowing 116.6 points per 100 possessions over their last 15 outings (29th in the league) including 52.8 points in the paint (28th) and 17.0 fast break points (tied-26th). They will have a difficult time against the Raptors who are tallying 112.2 points per 100 possessions over their previous 15 outings (8th in the league) on 54.0% effective field goal percentage (7th). Toronto is scoring 115.0 points per game at Scotiabank Arena this season, and the Raptors are often quite ruthless on the home court.
Still, the Raptors will have to deal with LeBron James who had 36 points at Chicago and is averaging 30.2 points, 8.8 rebounds, and 9.0 assists over his last five appearances. With all injured players among his team, LeBron will have to carry the Lakers on his back. Kyle Kuzma returned from a two-game absence and dropped 21 points on the Bulls, while he’s averaging 17.1 points and 5.8 rebounds over his last eight outings.
On the other side, Kawhi Leonard will have a busy night trying to slow down LeBron, so he will need more help at the offensive end, especially from Marc Gasol who’s playing in a terrible form. Gasol had two points against Cleveland on 1-of-6 shooting from the field, while he’s scored 20 points in the total over his last four outings, making nine of his 23 field-goal attempts. Ibaka will be sidelined, so Gasol will have to step up. Also, Pascal Siakam could be a key player for the Raptors, as the talented forward is posting 20.9 points on 54.6% shooting from the field to go with 6.9 rebounds and 3.7 assists in his last ten games.
It will be interesting to see the matchup between Kuzma and Siakam, but the key for the Raptors will be to defend well against LeBron’s isolations. On the other side, the Lakers will have to tighten up their defense in general, while they’ll need to shoot the ball well and hit some triples if they want to upset the odds tonight.
I will be surprised if the Raptors fail to win this game, but I’m slightly concerned about the spread. On the other hand, they smashed the Lakers at Staples Center and are 8-0 straight up and 7-1 ATS in the last eight H2H matchups, so I just have to lay my money on the Raptors to cover. LeBron should have another big game at the offensive end and surpass his point-mark even though he will match up with one of the best defensive players Kawhi Leonard.
When it comes to the totals, I expect to see a high-scoring affair, but the line has been set pretty high. However, two of the last four H2H duels had more than 231 points in the total, and the Lakers are playing at a very fast pace, so I’m backing the over. Considering the Lakers’ defense, the hosts should easily surpass a 120-point mark, while I expect the Lakers to reach 110 points tonight.
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