Raptors vs. Lakers NBA Odds & Picks: Will L.A.’s Struggles Continue With LeBron and Davis? (May 2)
Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: LeBron James.
- Somehow, someway the Raptors are just 2 1/2 games back of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
- The Lakers received good news on Friday in the return of LeBron James to their lineup, but still find themselves in danger of sliding into the play-in game.
- See why Kenny Ducey is rolling with Toronto on Sunday night even with James and Anthony Davis in the building.
Raptors vs. Lakers Odds
|Moneyline||+230 / -275|
|Time||Sunday, 10 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Sunday and via BetMGM|
The Lakers are slowly slipping into the play-in tournament out West, and in desperate need of a big win to get back on track in their quest to defend their title. The return of LeBron James and Anthony Davis hasn’t yet netted them the results they wanted, so will Sunday be any different? Let’s see if we can find the answer in the numbers.
Before we get all crazy over the Raptors in this spot, let’s start with a very important trend. Toronto is just 4-10 against the spread on the second night of a back-to-back, and it will be taking on Los Angeles less than 24 hours after going to war with the Jazz. So, not only does this team fail to turn it on when it’s on no rest, but it should be even further fatigued given the nature of Saturday’s contest.
Let’s talk about that for a second, because while the Jazz aren’t quite the same without Donovan Mitchell, they’ve still played the second-best defense in the NBA over the past five games. Toronto held a two-point lead going into the fourth quarter before Utah came back and closed things out with a strong defensive performance, winning by six.
Sitting just 2 1/2 games back of the final playoff spot in the East, Toronto has been playing some inspired basketball of late even though it comes in on a two-game losing streak. Those losses were at the hands of the Jazz and Nets, and prior to that the Raptors had won five of six games. They’re certainly a force to be reckoned with.
While the Raptors do well to score the basketball, particularly from deep, their defense over the last five games has ranked 24th in the NBA. It would be an issue, but the Lakers’ offense has looked lost of late, so perhaps there is some hope here for Toronto.
Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers managed to finally get LeBron James back from a 20-game absence, only to get taken out by the tanking Kings on Friday in what was a largely disappointing loss.
James managed to log a pretty hefty 32 minutes, and after that night at the office he’s been tagged as questionable for this one. Alex Caruso, who missed that loss, is once again questionable with back spasms, while seemingly the entire roster, including Anthony Davis, is probable.
The return of Davis was supposed to bring with it a lifeline for this Lakers offense, but it hasn’t come to fruition. The fact that James returned, and things still didn’t improve is even more concerning.
Los Angeles has lost four of five since AD made his return from injury, and ranks 21st with a 108.4 offensive rating. What’s even more concerning, though, is that the Lakers are all the way down in 17th over that span when it comes to defensive efficiency. Before his return, Davis was adding over nine points per 100 possessions on offense, and about a point on defense, so the fact that his impact has not been felt is definitely cause for concern.
As a result of their recent slide, the Lakers now find themselves dangerously close to the play-in tournament, leading the seventh-place Trail Blazers by one game. In a surprising turn, the Mavericks have actually leapfrogged LA for fifth place, putting the team in a deeper state of peril. It’s now or never for these Lakers; they need to stack wins in the worst way to guarantee themselves at least a full series to begin the playoffs.
The Lakers clearly need some time to work through their offensive issues, and at this pace it feels like it would be a miracle if they’re all solved by the postseason. The home stretch is likely going to be rocky for them, filled with close games and devastating losses like Friday’s.
Los Angeles has struggled to score the basketball for the better part of a month now, and the return of its stars hasn’t magically cured what ails them. Good, efficient offenses have been able to find a way through this Raptors defense, but without a strong plan on that end I’m not sure the Lakers will run away with this one.
With that, I think six points is too many not to take, even though Toronto’s been bad in this spot all season long.
Pick: Raptors +6 (-110)