The Raptors don’t have to worry about LeBron James anymore. That’s the truth of the matter. He could go supernova tonight, drop 45-15-10, win the game in a overwhelming show of force and talent, and it wouldn’t really matter to Toronto anymore. It would be a win for the Lakers, one they desperately need to even hope to make the playoffs — and just another L for the Raps.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves here. Despite coach Nick Nurse admitting — even if tongue in cheek — that he and the rest of the (former) Raptors coaching staff have lost sleep trying to stop LeBron, he has much less reason to worry now. Even though it’s confirmed that James will indeed play tonight and Kyle Lowry will sit with a sore ankle, Toronto has by far the better team — a deeper and healthier lineup (even still!), a locker room undivided. I doubt Nurse spent last night tossing and turning.
Behind LeBron, the Lakers have a healthy Kyle Kuzma to lean on, and after that there’s not much. Their other young “stars” Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball are out, and the team’s veterans Tyson Chandler and, sure, Lance Stephenson are also not all the way back. They do have angry technician Rajon Rondo available, but he’s not quite the player he was a decade ago — more annoying than terrifying. My point here is: LeBron could very well still own Toronto, but the Raptors can and should control this game.
To get up to speed, the updated game details are below. We’ve got Sully Akbari’s full preview here. Now, let’s watch.
Where to Watch:
Sportsnet One (and Ontario), 8pm EST
Toronto — Jeremy Lin, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, Pascal Siakam, Marc Gasol
Los Angeles — Rajon Rondo, Reggie Bullock, LeBron James, Kyle Kuzma, JaVale McGee
Toronto — Fred VanVleet (out - thumb), Serge Ibaka (out - suspension), Kyle Lowry (out - ankle)
Los Angeles — Josh Hart (available but questionable - knee), Lance Stephenson (questionable – Toe), Tyson Chandler (questionable - neck), Lonzo Ball (out - ankle), Brandon Ingram (out - shoulder)