The Raptors lost a tough one against the Jazz on Friday night. They looked sluggish in the opening frame, then looked strong for awhile, and then they somehow let Utah chip away a late lead and steal the win. There was more to it than that — for example, we’ve been wringing our hands about the clutch time offense, Kyle Lowry didn’t look particularly good, and Jonas Valanciunas had himself a game — but it’s still mostly just a bummer.
But now the Los Angeles Lakers are here!
Despite owning 19-29 record, the Lakers have actually won eight of their last ten games — including a recent win over the Celtics, god bless’em. They’re beatable of course, but not quite the pushover they were at the beginning of the season (when the Raptors did indeed push them over).
Part of this is, as coach Dwane Casey said pre-game, because of an uptick in the Lakers’ defensive intensity. Los Angeles has been the third best team in the league over the past two weeks in that regard; and with their speed and length, it’s not difficult to imagine why. When asked, Casey credited the young Lakers with just learning more about the hows of NBA defense. They’ve figured out ways to channel that same youthful exuberance in a positive direction.
It’s worth noting too that the Lakers play with the league’s fastest pace. They want to get up and down, and force their opponents into a game of speed. Fortunately, the Raptors are tenth in the league, and actually benefit at times from this idea — just try to tell the bench unit, for example, to slow down.
All of this is to suggest we may be in for an interesting match-up this evening. The Raptors are looking for a bounce back win, the Lakers are looking to keep the good times rolling.
And all this without even mentioning Lonzo Ball. Imagine that!
Here’s the full preview from Joel Stephens for Raptors-Lakers. And here are your game details:
Where to Watch:
TSN 4/5 6:00 p.m. EST
Toronto – Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, OG Anunoby, Serge Ibaka, Jonas Valanciunas
Los Angeles – Tyler Ennis, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Brandon Ingram, Julius Randle, Brook Lopez
Toronto – none
Los Angeles – Lonzo Ball (out)