LA Lakers vs. Toronto Raptors Pick
LA Lakers (31-36, 27-39-1 ATS) vs. Toronto Raptors (48-20, 28-39-1 ATS)
When: Thursday, March 14th, 2019 – 8:00 pm ET
Where: Scotiabank Arena – Toronto, Ontario
By: Kyle Cash, NBA Basketball Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: LAL +10/TOR -10
Last Night in the NBA
If you’ll allow me the honor of starting off today’s breakdown on a more sentimental note, I feel it only right that we celebrate the birthday of a man who has meant so much to me for so long. I can honestly say that this guy has taught me so much about professionalism, humility, kindness, compassion, marriage, and, most importantly, fatherhood. I wake up every day thankful that he has been a part of my life and helped to shape me into the man that I am and given me a shining example of the husband and father that I want to be. And top it all off, he put a whooping on the Rockets last night and won us some money. Happy birthday, Mr. Stephen Curry!
Also, today is my dad’s birthday, so, uh, same goes for him. Happy birthday, old man!
Elsewhere in the NBA, the Hawks continued to struggle with their dual identities of “fun, competitive, up-and-coming team” and “outright tankers” (with the former winning out), Russell Westbrook is sneakily rounding back into his MVP form as he continued to pad his triple-double stats, and the Detroit Pistons only averaged 0.67 points per minute in tonight’s third quarter. Figured I would start you all off with a bit of math. Get the brain juices flowing.
We’re following the King across the border tonight as the Los Angeles Lakers travel to the thawing North to take on the Toronto Raptors. Serge Ibaka is on the shelf after video emerged of him trying to strangle a former lottery pick, and the Raptors will be without his services for a few days. Somehow, someway, the 2nd best team in the NBA is going to have to figure out a way to beat the 11th best team in the Western Conference without their 4th best player – how ever will they do it? The Raptors are still a solid 10-point favorite over their former bully with the total set to a surprisingly high 231 points. I hope this finally gives Raptors fans some closure after years of abuse at the hand of the King.
LeBron Go Breaking My Heart
Let’s just say that the Lakers’ last meeting with the Toronto Raptors did not exactly go as planned. The aforementioned Serge Ibaka shot 15-for-17 from the field and the Raptors led by 25 points after one quarter. Game, set, match. Tonight, the Lakers offer a completely different team; no Lonzo, no Ingram, and a LeBron James who is preoccupied with the pre-production on Space Jam 2: Electric Boogaloo. Toronto is sitting comfortably in the 7th spot in Defensive Rating while the Lakers toil away down at 22nd in Offensive Rating, so if the Lakers want to make the Raptors sweat, something’s gotta give.
God, I hate breaking down these Lakers games at this point in the season. I never cared about March NBA until I became a basketball handicapper; I simply shut my brain off for the month and focused on the NCAA landscape. But now, I’m forced to dive into the mindset of a man I’ve spent most of my formative years despising. Why do you do this to me, Predictem.com? Why? For the past couple of years, LeBron has been the maniacal kid with a magnifying glass roasting the Raptors alive, and if the DNA of Eastern Conference LeBron still exists within the confines of his disinterested body, 10 points is going to look extremely silly. I might be about to throw out all of the stats on this one and hit the “Break Glass n Case of Emergency” button. Stay tuned.
Over the last couple of playoffs, the DeMar DeRozan Raptors met the same, sticky end at the hands of the meteor LeBron James, and all signs of life were wiped out. Kawhi, however, stared death in the face at the ripe old age of 21 and, in true Kawhi fashion, refused to blink. Now, the age-old question remains: was it a DeMar DeRozan problem – or was it a Toronto Raptors problem?
Trick question: it’s a Kyle Lowry problem. But luckily for Toronto, they don’t need him to be a superstar to win a few playoff series, and they definitely don’t need him to be a superstar to take down the Los Angeles Lakers. The T-Dots have one of the deepest rotations in the league, and the Lakers, um…don’t. If LeBron is running on empty, this thing will be over before it begins.
However, the Raptors are finally showing signs of fatigue. After a torrid run through the month of February (7-1), they have limped to a 2-3 start to March and just got destroyed by the Cleveland Cavaliers. Cleveland! It’s like LeBron’s ghost was still haunting the walls of the Q to disrupt the Raptors. If Toronto can return to their February form, LA will just be another notch on their belt. But if the clock strikes midnight on their Cinderella story, there’s nobody better equipped to take advantage of their mishaps than the Man Who Calls Himself King.
Lebron James owns the #Raptors. He’s 22-6 reg season & 10-22 in playoffs. But it was Serge Ibaka who gave a Lebron-style beatdown on LA with 34 & 10 at 88% FG% & 3-3 FT in last meeting. Ibaka is suspended tonight & LA is still getting 10 points.https://t.co/DXck7LClWX #LakeShow pic.twitter.com/edA3iYt9ve
— Predictem (@PredictemPicks) March 14, 2019
It’s only fitting that the Toronto Raptors started to unravel just as the NCAA tournament rolled around. In a lot of ways, they are the NBA avatar for the Virginia Cavaliers. Incredible regular season team, amazing on paper, versatile offensive weapons, stout defense, a young, intelligent, analytical-driven coach (albeit a much less handsome one in Toronto) – and a penchant for pissing it all away come playoff time. However, I’ll go on record and state it right now: UVA is going to win the championship. I can’t say the same about Toronto.
I am obviously not a LeBron acolyte, and it’s a rare occasion to see me defend the man. But one trait he does possess that is MJ-esque in nature is his complete and utter domination over another team. MJ figured out the Pistons, he took down the Lakers, he dismantled the Suns, he psychologically devastated the Trail Blazers (Clyde never recovered), he thwarted the up-and-coming Sonics, and then he polished off his career by repeatedly pulling Karl Malone’s pants down in the NBA Finals. And that’s exactly what LBJ does to this Raptors team. He’s 22-6 against them in the regular season and 10-2 in the playoffs. The Toronto Raptors should be 10-point favorites over the Los Angeles Lakers – but they should be an underdog to their dad LeBron James.
Final Score Prediction: Toronto Raptors 119 – Los Angeles Lakers 117