The Toronto Raptors are back out on the court after letting a lead slip away from them on Saturday night in Utah. The fourth quarter was oh so familiar for Raptors’ fans. Their offense went into neutral, as they scored just 13 points in a 21-13 quarter to lose by a final score of 106-102. The Raptors had a 62-56 lead going into halftime as the underdogs.
However, the Jazz stout defense showed up in the final frame to slow down Fred VanVleet and Pascal Siakam. The biggest positive for the Raptors as of late has been the play of center Khem Birch. The Canadian scored 17 points and 10 boards last night for another productive outing. He notched 20 points and 8 rebounds against the Denver Nuggets prior to the solid performance last night.
The Raptors were wasting away with Aron Baynes starting at center. Now Baynes isn’t even getting minutes off the bench with Birch on the roster. The Magic did the Raptors a big favor by releasing Birch, who has found a home in the starting lineup of the Raptors. Kyle Lowry did not play as a result of a coach’s decision for rest.
On a back-to-back, and this season pretty well in the tubes, playing the veteran on consecutive nights wouldn’t have been a popular decision. Like I’ve said before, the Raptors have no interest in going to the play-in tournament. There are players on the Raptors that aren’t going to give up, but at the same time, the killer instinct likely isn’t there.
Toronto goes into the Staples Center with a record of 26-38 for a three-game deficit behind the Washington Wizards. The Wizards would be going to the play-in tournament with the final seed in the East. They deserve it the most, and have been showing the most drive recently. For the Lakers, they have to find a little drive and motivation now that Lebron James is back in the lineup.
In a late addition to the game against the Sacramento Kings on Friday, Lebron returned from his injury to join Anthony Davis on the floor. Call it rust or what have you, but the Lakers weren’t in sync in a 110-106 loss. This was after the Lakers lost 116-107 against the Wizards in their last game without Lebron. They are currently tied with the Portland Trail Blazers for the fifth seed in the West at 36-27. Head below for our free Raptors vs. Lakers pick on May 2, 2021.
Toronto Raptors vs. Los Angeles Lakers NBA Betting Odds:
Raptors vs. Lakers Prediction:
The loss against the Kings just wasn’t a good look for the Lakers at all. In their defense, with Lebron returning to the lineup, there were likely major chemistry issues. Lebron scored only 16 points in the 110-106 loss. With that first start out of the way, the rust is likely to come off for him against the Raptors. The Lakers should look like more of a cohesive unit against a Raptors team on a back-to-back tonight.
If there was any silver lining in the loss, the defense continued to play fundamentally strong basketball. The Lakers are second in the NBA with 106.5 points against per game. I’m not expecting the Raptors to match up well with what should be a determined Lakers team this evening. Lowry is expected to be back for the Raptors on Sunday, but Gary Trent Jr. will be absent. Chris Boucher and Paul Watson are also officially OUT.
The Raptors have not been able to sustain much offense this season. They’ve been inconsistent throughout the 2021 campaign. Overall, Toronto is 18th with 111.6 points scored per game and 24th with a field goal percentage of 45%. Their ability to offensive rebound has been hurting them considerably this season. The Raptors are 29th in the NBA in that regard, while the Lakers are fifth on the defensive glass. AD should be able to rule the paint on Sunday night.
In the Raptors previous five outings, they’ve scored just 106.2 points per game. The spotty offense showed up in the fourth quarter in Utah, and we’re likely going to see it against another strong defense. After banging against a physical Jazz defense last night, and a trip to Los Angeles for another matchup against a physical defense tonight, look for the Lakers to dictate the pace in this one. Lowry likely wills the Raptors to keep the scoreboard close for three quarters, but expect the Lakers to pull away against a tired Toronto squad.