Currently mired in a four-game losing streak that now includes the blowing of not one, but two 20 point leads, the suddenly hapless Raps (14-26) return home to the circus sideshow that is the Los Angeles Lakers (17-22), who are on a five-game road losing streak of their own.The Lakers’ struggles this season have been well documented, but when healthy (and it sounds like they will be today) they still boast an imposing starting lineup with five current or former All-Star talents. Their bench includes, well, Antawn Jamison.

We’ll get to the match-ups in a second, but the gist of this game, as it is with most teams playing the Lakers, is that the Raptors will be at a severe talent disadvantage when the Laker starters are on the floor, but have a significant advantage when it comes to depth. You’d have to think Alan Anderson (aka Kobe Junior) will be key in this one, particularly in that second-quarter stretch when the starters come out. The Raps will need Kyle Lowry to have a big game as well – not forcing the ball inside, but he’ll likely have his chances to get into the lane seeing as Steve Nash couldn’t stay in front of him on his best of days.

On defence, a major key will be finding a way to not let Dwight Howard run rampant inside. The Raps will have a significant size disadvantage, assuming Gray doesn’t get more than his usual 5 minutes, and it’ll likely fall on Amir to carry D12 on his back. Amir’s played very well lately, but uber-athletic bigs have torced the Raps on the boards this year (see: Cousins, DeMarcus), and Dwight can still be a load on most nights. Stopping Kobe will be key, as well: I expect Fields and Anderson to get most of the work on him defensively, but I think Terrence Ross might be a good option given his length and ability to contest jump shooters, which is basically all Kobe is at this stage in his career (albeit one of the best in the game).

But anyways, you all know the Lakers. Let’s get to the tale of the tape:

Tale of the Tape
O-Rating: Toronto 106.5 (11th), Lakers 109.2 (7th)
D-Rating: Toronto 108.4 (26th), Lakers 107.3 (21st)
Pace: Toronto 92.4 (25th), Lakers 97.4 (2nd)
Strength: Toronto ball control (2nd), Lakers rebounding (3rd)
Weakness: Toronto Freebies (30th in Opp FTA/FGA), Lakers bench scoring (30th)

Positional Breakdown
Point Guards: Kyle Lowry and Jose Calderon v. Steve Nash, Chris Duhon, and Darius Morris
Steve Nash always seems to have big games in Toronto, but Lowry and Calderon both have significant advantages over the pu-pu platter that’s backing him up. Lowry should be able to shred Nash on the offensive side of the ball, as well, though it’ll be interesting to see how he game-plans for the Lakers’ size once he gets into the lane. In any case, Nash is having a season similar to Jose from a statistical standpoint, and Lowry is far better than the Laker backups, so advantage Raptors here.

Wings: DeMar DeRozan, Landry Fields, Alan Anderson and Terrence Ross v. Kobe Bryant, Metta World Peace, Jodie Meeks, and Devin Ebanks
When you see those names, it’s closer than you thought it would be, hey? Kobe and World Peace have been the two Lakers who haven’t been disappointing this year, though – as I said earlier, Kobe’s basically become the best spot-up shooter in the game, and World Peace is still an all-world defender and a sneaky-effective scorer who should eat DeMar’s lunch if he tries to play the mid-range game yet again. Anderson and Ross will be key off the bench, as the Raptors have a clear advantage in depth here (notice a common thread yet?).

Bigs: Ed Davis, Amir Johnson, Quincy Acy and Aaron Gray v. Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol, Antawn Jamison, Earl Clark, and Robert Sacre
It’s all about Dwight here, as he’s the only player without a real matchup equivalent on the other side. Gasol’s been very disappointing in the D’Antoni system thus far, and although it’s always nice to see another Canadian in the league, there isn’t a lot Robert Sacre can do that makes me think Davis/Amir will have issues with him. Expect Gray to get a share of the minutes with the expected size disadvantage.

The Picks
Vegas: Lakers -4.5
Hollinger: Lakers -2.5
Garrett: I’d love to say the Raptors here, but my gut says that Dwight goes crazy and the Lakers win by 7. Hopefully I’m wrong, though, and another struggling team is just what the doctor ordered to get the Raps back on track.

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  • JHP

    It’s the Lakers for goodness sake.  The league has already apologized twice this season and if the Raptor’s put together a great game this will be a third.  Of course why apologize when it means nothing and makes the league look bad.  Lack of an inside game will really hurt the Raptor’s but there is always next year.  JV has had a really good mid season nap and AB should have at least 13 good games left in him.

    • DumbassKicker

      The game must have disappointed you. Too bad.

  • j bean

    With an advantage in the young legs dept. the Raptors need lots of easy buckets from fast breaks to overcome the disadvantages everywhere else. This is a game the Lakers will keep pouring it on when they find something that’s working so it could get ugly if Casey can’t come up with the right adjustments.

  • 511

    Lakers in the house. Big shiny stars. Kobe. Nash. Gasol. Metta World Peace. Howard. Hope we’re ready, hope we show some of that excellent team play that we’ve seen … at times. And keep it going beyond the first half, this time. 

    Be sweet to take ’em dowwwwwn. 

    Go DeMar. 

    Go Jose. 

    Go Kyle. 

    Go Amir. 

    Go Ed. 

    Go Anderson. 

    Go TRoss. 

    Go Raps! 

    • NyAlesund

       …..and GO AWAY Bargs………

  • K.J.P

    Does anyone know when JV and AB are coming back to the line up? 

    • KJ-B

      Apparently Primo is shooting, saw some pics on twitter or somewhere from Raps…

  • KJ-B

    START ROSS.  They gone need SCORING!!!

  • FAQ

     TRaps by 10…. or maybe … lose by 2 ….

    • FAQ

      Close… but if Howard wasn’t ejected the TRaps might have lost by 2 or more… ya think??

      Lakers?  That’s what happens to a geriatric team of has-beens… sooo obvious.

      Undoubtedly, these Lakers will be blown up for next season, particularly if Kobe retires.  I don’t see any of the casualties coming to TO.

  • unknown guest

    You know it sucks being a Canadian basketball fan when the Lakers, yes, even THESE Lakers, come into town and it’s on TSNfkn2.

    • FAQ

      That’s because most Canadians don’t care about the NBA, and few watch it on TV.  Toronto may have a large population, but it is a small, small b’ball market.  If the Raptors went to say Las Vegas, few would miss it other than the tribal honking fans.  That’s the reality, folks.

      • NEW ERA

        But curling all stars? Fucking really?

        • unknown guest

          I KNOW.

        • FAQ

          More curling fans in Canada than b’ball t.h.f.’s in TO.. believe it.

      • unknown guest

        I don’t buy it, tbh. I just don’t believe in the Neilsen ratings in this day and age. I have yet to meet anyone who has a box or who knows who has one, you know?
        + with the influx of better Canadian born players, I’m hoping for a change in culture/mentality.

    • knickz

       absolute joke! curlind and skiing were on smh

  • KJ-B



    • unknown guest

      Not gonna change this year. Still, Raps doing ok so far.

      GO ROSS!!!

    • FAQ

      When these NBA refs visit TO, the MLSE should get them laid!!!

      How about that cougar playing a PS Vita video game with Fields.. in a limo no less!!!

      • KJ-B

        what an FAQ, Anselmi will be giving you a call soon…!

  • unknown guest

    Please keep the damn lead.

  • unknown guest

    WOW, Amir #3. WTF REFS!

  • chach

    Bring back Jose!!!

  • jacobdrichards4

    Where was ed davis at the end?

    • Syed Qamar1

      Sleeping. They did not need to bring him back in with the lead they had