Toronto Raptors and Los Angeles Lakers will face off on Saturday. It will be the second game for the Lakers after the restart of the NBA, whereas it will be the first for the Raptors to play since March.
Even without NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green, the Toronto Raptors are having a great season and are the second seed in the Eastern Conference. The former champions have clinched a playoff spot with a 46-18 record and are well on their way to achieving another championship.
The whole Raptors squad is contributing to their successful season. Pascal Siakam, the former Most Improved Player, put up big numbers, and his production fills up much of what the team lost after Leonard left. Fred VanVleet is also having a great season after his playoff success, and Serge Ibaka, Norman Powell, and Kyle Lowry unleashed great chemistry on the floor.
The raptors managed to carry on their streak without their starting center Marc Gasol. He missed 16 out of the last 17 games before the break with a hamstring injury. He was able to recover and came back healthy to Orlando with a slimmed-down body.
The Raptors won two scrimmages out of the three games they played before the official restart. They beat Houston Rockets and Portland Trail Blazers but lost to the Phoenix Suns 117-106.
Los Angeles Lakers
The Lebron James and Anthony Davis duo have exceeded expectations, and they have shown the world that they are one of the most unstoppable, if not the best, duo in the league. They are as skilled and balanced as any duo n NBA history.
The Lakers have outscored opponents by 10.4 points per 100 possessions with both of them on the floor. However, the number dips drastically when James leaves the court, which analysts and players believe has led him to the MVP conversation this season at 35 years of age.
Anthony Davis leads the team in scoring, rebounding, blocked shots and steals. He is an elite defender and scorer, being one of the worst nightmares for his opponents. Among Davis, Dwight Howard and Javale Mcgee make up a strong frontcourt, and their length has been a big reason for their defensive success.
They have recently signed Dion Waiters and JR Smith to their squad during the hiatus and went 2-1 in the NBA scrimmage before the restart of the season.
Raptors with Full Squad
The Raptors expect to have a full roster available for the first time this season. Their starting lineup, Kyle Lowry, Fred VanVleet, OG Anunoby, Pascal Siakam, and Marc Gasol, only appeared in just 17 games this season, and they are expected to start their first game.
OG Anunoby and Marc Gasol are all healthy and recovered to play in the remaining season. Even rookie center Dewan Hernandez has been cleared to play after recovering from a severe ankle sprain.
Two missing players for the Lakers
Laker’s guard Avery Bradley and Rajon Rondo will miss the game against the Raptors. Bradley opted out of the remaining season for personal reasons, and the chance for them to win games has somewhat decreased.
He is a great defender against opposing guards and possesses a tremendous offensive skillset as a 3-point shooter and off-ball cutter. Rondo will miss the game due to a thumb injury during a practice in Orlando.
The Raptors will beat the Lakers and continue their winning streak to five on Saturday. The Raptors have a full and healthy squad. They have had a successful regular season even without their whole team, and they will play even better will all of them on the floor.
Although the game will be close, the Lakers will have a hard time filling Avery Bradley’s spot as they need a shooter besides Danny Green.