The Los Angeles Lakers head to Tampa Bay for a meeting with the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday night. They’re on the road for five straight games after losing against the Clippers at the Staples Center on Sunday. The offense came to life a couple of nights earlier, though this was against one of the worst defenses in the NBA in Sacramento.
The Lakers cashed a 115-94 win, though their only wins recently have been against below average teams. Since last weekend, the Lakers have beaten the Magic, 96-93, and Kings, 115-94. If we want to go back slightly more to March 26, we can include a 100-86 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers in there.
None of those teams are going to the playoffs. The most recent win that the Lakers have had against a decent team was on March 18 against the Charlotte Hornets, 116-105. And guess what, Lebron James was playing in that game. In other words, the Lakers only wins without Lebron since he’s gone out has been against the Cavaliers, Kings, and Magic.
The Kings can be good when they want to be, but it’s hard to say it constitutes a “good” win. The Lakers are just trying to keep their heads above water until Lebron and AD return, but it’s been tough sledding in their absence. AD is reportedly a long ways out from getting back on the floor. For the Lakers to repeat, it’s imperative that they have Lebron and AD together.
And flipping a switch come playoff time could be difficult. Certainly in peak form, the Lakers can repeat as champions, but they have a really long road ahead of them before they get to that point. The Lakers enter Tampa to challenge a Raptors squad that is coming off a thrilling win over the Washington Wizards last night.
Newcomer Gary Trent Jr. buried a three at the buzzer to sink the Wizards, 103-101. Trent Jr. collected the rebound, went coast-to-cast, and then pulled up for the game-winner. The former Duke star and Blazer was included in a trade for Normal Powell. He’s fitting into the Raptors’ system nicely so far.
Barely beating the Wizards isn’t much to celebrate, though, and the Raps are probably best served tanking instead of winning games. In any event, it was an exciting win, and the Raptors go into Tuesday with a record of 20-30. Even if they squeaked into the playoffs, a deep run is unlikely. Head below for our free Lakers vs. Raptors pick on April 6, 2021.
Los Angeles Lakers vs. Toronto Raptors NBA Betting Odds:
Lakers vs. Raptors Prediction:
If there is anything the Lakers continue to do well it’s play defense. Kudos to head coach Frank Vogel for making his defensive system work with his current group of players. It’s certainly refreshing to see an NBA team in this era stress defense rather than running up and down the floor chucking up threes as quickly as possible. The Lakers are second in the NBA with 105.9 points conceded per game.
They are top-6 in every defensive category, including overall field goal and three-point defense, and rebounding on the defensive end. It’s even more impressive that they’re staying aggressive defensively without Lebron and AD on the court. In their previous five outings, the Lakers have allowed only 97.8 points per game. They held a good Kings’ offense to 97 points, and then most recently held the Clippers to 104 points in the 104-86 loss.
The Lakers have held up nicely on the road as well. They’ve allowed 104.6 points per game as visitors this season. With Kyle Lowry OUT and Fred VanVleet listed as questionable with a hip flexor injury, the Raptors may have to give the starting nod to Malachi Flynn again. Flynn has a lot of potential in Toronto, but the rookie likely faces growing pains against a strong Lakers’ defense.
The Raptors clearly missed their starting lineup against a weak Washington defense last night. They needed a three at the buzzer to get to 103 points and the win. Toronto is 16th in the NBA with 112.1 points scored per game. They’re 24th with a field goal percentage of 44.7%. Expect the Lakers to use their defense to win or keep this game close. The offense isn’t going to win them too many games. LA has netted 98.8 points per game through their last five outings.
Overall, they are 22nd with 110 points per game, but without Lebron and AD, subtract around 10 points per game from that number. Nick Nurse has had his defense playing better basketball as of late with 106.2 points conceded per game. They’re 16th in the NBA with 111.6 points against per contest. The UNDER has gone 8-3 in their previous 11 meetings, and this has the makings of another low-scoring final score between the Lakers and Raptors.