Things You Already Know:
Last season, the Raptors were one of the league’s biggest surprises, going 47-35 and winning the Atlantic Division. However, everyone in Laker Land will forever remember the NBA’s lone Canadian franchise for allowing Kobe Bryant to score an astonishing 81 points against them over two years ago—the second highest single game points total in history.
Last season, the Lakers and Raptors split their two matchups, with each team winning on their home floor. The loss in Toronto was the second game of a six-game road trip for the Lakers—a stretch in which they only won two games.
Things You Might Not Know:
Toronto has not been playing well of late, winning only two of five games to open up the month of March, with the wins coming against the lowly Heat and Sonics. Despite the slide, the Raptors are sitting comfortably in the five spot in the Eastern Conference Playoff standings at 34-28. If the playoffs were to start today, the Raptors would face off against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, who are currently a game and a half up on them for home court advantage in their potential first round playoff series.
Third year guard Jose Calderon—who began to show signs of his potential last season—is having a breakout year for the Raptors, averaging nearly 13 points and nine assists while garnering All-Star buzz. Like the Lakers, the Raptor’s leading scorer Chris Bosh is far and away their points leader, averaging almost 23 a night. However, unlike L.A., Toronto lacks a true second option on offense, even though five other Raptors average double figures in points.
Things You Need To Know:
Chris Bosh killed the Lakers last season in the teams’ two meetings, averaging 25 points and 11 rebounds. Kobe was solid against the Raptors, averaging 28 points, but was unable to rescue them late in their close loss in Toronto.
Although the addition of Derek Fisher and the emergence of Jordan Farmar has helped nullify the effectiveness of opposing point guards, the Lakers are still susceptible to penetrating guards like Calderon as long as Andrew Bynum is out.
After losing to the Kings at home on Sunday night in an extremely sloppy game, the Lakers figure to come out much sharper as they look to build momentum before heading out on a huge four-game road trip against some of the Western Conference’s best teams.