Tonight the Lakers (2-2) face the Toronto Raptors (2-2) and it feels like we just played this game. That is, it would have been the same game if not for the Lakers becoming a defensive juggernaut! The Raptors are coming off a tough loss to the Warriors and are in the mood to get back on track against a young, overconfident Laker squad.
Like seemingly every other team in the NBA, the Raptors feature a dynamic backcourt with DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry. Both guards can score in bunches, with DeRozan’s play a clear passive-aggressive attack against analytics. This team is not afraid of taking a contested two and these guards are good at running a two man game that will put our defense in a bad spot. I don’t know what the analytics says about a dude that randomly capitalizes letters in his name, but I do know that DeRozan is excellent at basketball and will be looking to put on a show in his hometown.
This year presents a bit of a shift for the Raptors as they have tried to mix the three point shot into their offense. While they don’t actually make the shots, shooting just 30.6% from behind the arc in their first four games, it is important to note they are seemingly willing to shoot 30-40 of them a night. Here is to hoping tonight is not the night they start falling in a recurrence of Kyle Lowry’s 41 point performance the last time he visited Staples Center.
If you were wondering what happened Serge Ibaka, I have more great news. He is on the Toronto Raptors and is still perfectly capable making a three and playing power forward. He plays alongside the recently paid Norman Powell and a center whose name is very difficult to spell. Valanciunas may be out with an ankle injury, which could play into the Lakers hand if the Raptors choose to go with a small ball lineup. They do have a backup in Jakob Poeltl but we all know rookies from Utah can’t start in the NBA.
The Lakers come into tonight with some unexpected confidence after a great overtime win over the Wizards. Though they have yet to apologize for how hard it was for me to get up for work the next day, they themselves should be rested and ready with a similar game plan. As you should have heard our most recent podcast, if we can shrink our rotation and continue to improve we may well coalesce into an average basketball team.
This will be a tough test tonight, the Lakers being young and overconfident and the Raptors being actually good, but I’m telling you there’s a chance. If the Lakers can task an assistant coach with finding Randle’s On Switch before the 4th quarter we can do this. Let’s Goooooooo!