Two struggling squads clash in Tampa Bay, temporary home to the Toronto Raptors (20-30). Despite being ten games under .500, Toronto is still in the thick of the Eastern playoff race. The Los Angeles Lakers (31-19), on the other hand, are still a top-five team in the West but are slowly sliding down the standings.
The Raptors are a slight one-point underdog in this contest. They’ve won two straight while the Lakers are coming off a loss against the Clippers. Per the NBA betting odds, I like Toronto to win this Tuesday night. Don’t forget to take a look at the NBA lines we have for you on our online sportsbook when you make your bet.
Los Angeles Lakers: Lock ‘em Down
It’s been a brutal stretch for the Lakers in the post-LeBron saga so far. Since James hurt his ankle in the game against Atlanta, the Lakers are 3-6 and dead last in the league in offensive rating (the only team with a rating below 100).
That’s what happens when G Dennis Schroder is your only reliable playmaker. F/C Montrezl Harrell and F Kyle Kuzma (like he did against Sacramento) can explode for a good chunk of scoring, but they’re mighty inconsistent.
There just isn’t enough efficient playmaking here. The Lakers are also last in the league in turnover percent and are third-last in effective field goal percent. Yet they’ve won three games by maintaining a top-three defense in the league.
Right now, Lakers games are mostly unwatchable. But as long as this team plays persistent defense, they’ll be in most games.
The New “Toronto” Raptors
Like the Lakers, the Raptors have been assailed by injuries. G Kyle Lowry (foot) and G Fred VanVleet (hip) will be missing time, which has elevated this year’s new faces, G Malachi Flynn and G/F Gary Trent Jr. to the spotlight.
Flynn was impressive in the Raptors’ two wins. He’s averaged 16 points, 4.5 assists, and three steals on 52% shooting during this span. Trent Jr., the main player from the Norman Powell deal, has been on a roll himself.
The swingman is averaging 21.5 points and hitting 51.5% of his threes in his last four games. This includes the game-winner against the Wizards on Monday night. While he and Flynn have a long way to go to replace the production from Lowry and VanVleet, they’re proof that this team isn’t bereft of hope.
The Raptors endured a brutal March where they only won one game (1-13). April is off to a great start (2-0) as this team is showing it has plenty left in the tank. Sorry, NBA Draft Lottery fans. There will be no tanking for Toronto… yet.
Toronto is going for its third straight win. They haven’t won three in a row since February 21 and they have a good opportunity now against the offensively-challenged Lakers. This won’t be easy though as Toronto will give up a lot of size.
The Lakers could dominate Toronto inside. The Raptors have the second-worst defensive rebounding percent in the NBA. They’re also averaging a 24 percent free throw-to-field goal ratio, the worst in the league.
Expect players like Harrell to have a monster game against Toronto’s smaller players, who will have few options but to foul him. However, the Raptors have a sizable edge with its guards and their perimeter scoring.
Players like Flynn, Trent Jr., and OG Anunoby (who is averaging 2.8 threes on 40.3% shooting in his last nine games) can light up the Lakers from the perimeter. Despite L.A.s top-six perimeter defense, Toronto has a wealth of shooters to get past it. Bet online on the Raptors to get a hard-fought W tonight.