(Anna Lupean/Los Angeles Lakers)
Lakers vs. Raptors: 3 Things to Know (11/10/19)
Here is what you need to know before the Lakers host the defending-champion Toronto Raptors.
1) League’s best defense hit new heights
It’s obviously still early, but the Lakers are guarding their bucket with crisp execution and unique intensity. The result has been undeniable: the No. 1 defense in the league with an NBA-best 96.5 defensive rating.
And it’s not like the Lakers are only succeeding at a couple categories. They rank: first in blocks (8.0); second in opponent field goal percentage (40.9); third in opponent scoring (98.5), opponent 3-pointers (9.5) and opponent 3-point percentage (30.0); and fifth in turnovers forced (17.3).
They are also coming off the heels of a defensive masterpiece that saw the Lakers hold Miami to a season-low 80 points on just 35.0 percent shooting.
2) AD continues his dominant start
While the Lakers’ defense was cranked up a level against the Heat, they struggled to find their own scoring, managing just 95 points.
The biggest issue was that Miami hit them with a zone defense — a rarity in the NBA — and the Lakers struggled to solve it … well, until they started simply feeding Anthony Davis. Placed in the middle of the floor, Davis shredded that zone by constantly making the right decision for whether to shoot or pass.
He finished the night with 26 points and seven assists, but was even more impactful than his numbers, given how he dismantled Miami’s strategy.
3) The champs are here
Sure, NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard may have left to join the Clippers, but don’t think that Toronto is a pushover all of a sudden. Quiet the opposite, really, as the Raptors boast a 6-2 record — third-best in the NBA (with the Lakers leading at 7-1).
In Leonard’s vacuum, Pascal Siakam has risen to announce himself a true superstar. Siakam — who exploded for 44 points (plus 10 rebounds) in Toronto’s last game — is a hurricane with the ball, attacking the basket with violence and perhaps the league’s best spin move. And now he’s hitting 3-pointers, which has him seventh in the NBA in scoring (27.9), just ahead of AD (26.5).
Like the Lakers, the Raptors have been stout defensively, holding opponents to a league-low 40.6 percent shooting. They also hit a ton of 3s and free throws. All-Star point guard Kyle Lowry and veteran big Serge Ibaka are out, but look for OG Anunoby and Fred VanVleet to take up the challenge of replacing their punch.
Lakers: Avery Bradley (lower right leg contusion) is probable. Rajon Rondo (sore right calf) and DeMarcus Cousins (rehabilitation, right knee) are out.
Raptors: Kyle Lowry (distal phalanx fracture — left thumb), Serge Ibaka (right ankle sprain) and Patrick McCaw (left knee surgery) are out.
Tip-Off: 6:30 p.m. PT
TV: Spectrum SportsNet
Radio: 710 ESPN and 1330 Tu Liga
Unis: White Association
Location: STAPLES Center — Los Angeles, California
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