Any Raptors fan with the ability to attend a game in person at Scotiabank Arena likely circled Thursday’s visit from LeBron and the Lakers as one of the must-see matchups of the season. Now? Not so much.
This season has been nothing short of a disaster for LeBron in Los Angeles as he will miss the postseason for the first time since his second year in the NBA with the Cleveland Cavaliers. James had reached the past eight NBA Finals in the much weaker Eastern Conference. The Lakers weren’t able to lure another marquee free agent this past offseason and failed in an attempt to trade for Anthony Davis (for now).
It will be a very interesting upcoming summer for the purple & gold, who already have waived the white flag on the 2018-19 campaign by shutting down both Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram. James also is having his minutes trimmed back per game.
NBA Point Spread and Betting Analysis
Toronto won its eighth straight game in the series on Nov. 4, rolling to 121-107 victory. Serge Ibaka had the game of his life by hitting his first 14 shots and finishing with a career-high 34 points. He outscored the Lakers by himself in the first quarter, which ended with the Raptors leading 42-17. Kawhi Leonard didn’t play in his hometown. Kyle Lowry had 21 points and 15 assists. Kyle Kuzma led the Lakers with 24 points, while James had a quiet 18 in 28 minutes. L.A. was outscored by 16 points with him on the court.
The Raptors have covered the past five in this series.
Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers snapped a season-high five-game losing streak with a 123-107 win in Chicago on Tuesday, rallying from an early 20-point deficit. LeBron had 36 points and 10 rebounds in 33 minutes – he likely will be capped around 34 minutes (unless James wants to play more; no one is going to tell him different). Kuzma returned from a two-game injury absence with 21 points, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had 24 off the bench.
Perhaps the best moment of that game was G-League legend (all-time leader in three-pointers) Andre Ingram, 33, playing his first game this season and just third of his NBA career. He was recently signed to a 10-day contract. Ingram is essentially the Crash Davis (from the movie “Bull Durham”) of the G-League. Ingram played just two minutes, but the fans in Chicago gave him a nice ovation. The Lakers are 1-5 ATS in their past six road games.
The Raptors will be a bit short-handed here because Ibaka has been suspended three games for throwing a punch in a scuffle with the Cavs’ Marquese Chriss in Monday’s upset blowout loss in Cleveland. Both guys were ejected. It marked the eighth ejection of Ibaka’s 10-year career, and he was suspended one game for each of the previous two. Thus, he’s a repeat offender and why it was more games this time. Marc Gasol should slide into the starting lineup.
Toronto was completely flat Monday in the second of a back-to-back, turning it over 20 times. Leonard did play after sitting Sunday in Miami and had 25 points. No one else had more than 15. Lowry tweaked an ankle late but said he’s fine. Toronto is 2-5 ATS in its past seven vs. teams with a losing record.