The Toronto Raptors are coming off of three consecutive losses to start their road trip, and will head into a building where they have historically underperformed. The Los Angeles Lakers are also struggling on both ends of the court, reason for the their lowly, unimpressive record. The Raptors (7-6) after sitting at the top of the conference to start the season, are now sitting outside of the early playoff picture after two years of spending majority of their time in the top five of the conference. The Lakers (2-9) who have made their franchise man, Kobe Bryant, a very unhappy one, may be in his last meeting against the Raptors on his home turf, after much comment regarding his retirement.
The Raptors’ backcourt has been impressive, but that ends nearly every time they’ve made their way to the fourth quarter: poor shot selection, poor decisions, and awful, unforced turnovers. The Lakers’ backcourt is very talented with lots of young potential, but they are inconsistent & inexperienced.
Raptors Cage’s Keys To The Game
Attack the Backcourt
Again, like mentioned above, the Lakers’ backcourt is very young, and not very good defensively. DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry is arguably one of the top 3 backcourts in the entire league. This should be a no brainer for them to go straight at the youngsters; rattle them, get them in foul trouble. Thus, affecting their involvement on the game, preventing them to explode for a big night, which they are very capable of doing.
Play To Your Level
The Lakers are not a good team. Period. Play as if they’re fighting for a playoff spot, or nonetheless, the Raptors’ spot. The team is young, and does not play well together yet. They are still in a major transitional phase, but take them lightly, and they have the weapons to take the Raptors out.
Close Out The Game
They’ve been impressive for, 44 minutes, but, an NBA game is 48 minutes long. The Raptors have been, to put it nicely, bad in the last couple minutes of the game. A lot of that could be in connection with the coaching decisions, maybe the backcourt proving they should not be trusted with clutch decisions, maybe it’s the fact there are a ton of new faces and they don’t know how to face adversity together yet. Well, tonight, the Raptors will be in favour to win the game, and if they’re in that position – close it out. How? Smart, offensive ball movement. Lets hope they stray away from the isolation which has already proven terribly for the Raptors. Defensively, they’ve done a solid job, but it takes both ends to be successful.
X-Factor: Jonas Valanciunas
Valanciunas has been a major beast this season, and he tends to play very well against Roy Hibbert. From start to finish, the Raptors must involve Valanciunas, as he’s proven to be the Raptors’ most efficient, and most effective player. Its safe to say he’s been the Raptors best player on both ends of the floor. When he’s involved, he’s also consistent.