Raptors-Lakers Betting Preview: Kawhi Injury News Makes LeBron & Co. Favorites

Raptors-Lakers Betting Preview: Kawhi Injury News Makes LeBron & Co. Favorites article feature image

Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: LeBron James

Betting odds: Toronto Raptors at Los Angeles Lakers

  • Spread: Lakers -1.5
  • Over/Under: 236
  • Time: 9:30 p.m. ET

>> All odds as of 9 p.m. ET. Download The Action Network App to get real-time NBA odds and track your bets

In Sunday’s prime-time game, the 8-1 Toronto Raptors will face the 4-5 LA Lakers, who will be playing the second leg of a back-to-back after beating the Blazers in Portland last night. Can the Lakers rally? Or will the LA nightlife actually hurt the Raptors, who will be without Kawhi Leonard (ankle), in this one? Our analysts are here to discuss.

Betting Trends to Know

Good teams — those that have won 60% or more of their games — are often overrated in the NBA betting market. These squads have gone 4,800-4,964-183 (49%) ATS since 2005.

On the other hand, teams that struggle to cover the spread — those with an ATS win rate of less than 30% — are undervalued.

Since 2005, teams that have covered the spread less than 30% of the time have gone 586-501-19 (54%) ATS.

By combining these trends and betting bad ATS teams (like the Lakers) against good opponents (like the Raptors), gamblers have earned a profit of 54.02 units since 2005. — John Ewing

The Raptors got their road trip off to a great start Friday night in Phoenix, beating the Suns by nine (though they failed to cover the 10-point spread). Toronto now travels to the Staples Center to get its shot at LeBron and the Lakers.

Since 2011, East Coast teams (ET time zone) that have already played and won its first game of a road trip on the West Coast (PST) and then play a West Coast team in its next road game are just 40-58 ATS (40.8%).

Early in the season, East Coast teams in this spot struggle even more, going 13-25-1 ATS (34.2%), including 3-11 ATS over the last three seasons, failing to cover the spread by 3 PPG.

The Los Angeles Lakers playing a home game at the Staples Center on a Sunday night — a tradition unlike any other.

Since 2005, teams as a whole are 396-408-19 against the spread (49.3%) at home on Sunday night (7 p.m. ET or later), with the Lakers 64-69-3 ATS (-8.0 units).

Between the Lakers and Clippers, home teams in the Staples Center in this spot are 76-86-3 ATS (46.9%), losing bettors 13.8 units. It’s the least profitable home arena in the NBA, per our Bet Labs data— Evan Abrams

Moore: The LA Nightlife Factor

I will be ignoring all of Evan’s Staples Center trends. You know why?


I’m talking about the “team gets in Friday, goes out, practices Saturday, goes out and then plays Sunday vs. the Lakers” trend. It is this specific setup that matters.

And guess what? Fading teams in this spot has gone 71-63-4 ATS and 82-56 straight-up.


As for this game, the Raptors should shred here. They have the wings to slow down LeBron. Kyle Lowry is going to find gaps in LA’s defense and the Raptors have both the size and athleticism to combat JaVale McGee at the rim.

Toronto is playing the best ball in the league outside of Golden State, and even Golden State isn’t as sharp in some areas as Toronto.

But the Lakers got a huge win in a similar situation two weeks ago, winning on the second night of a back-to-back at home vs. the Nuggets. They’re coming off a big win vs. the Blazers, and like last year, they’re rallying after Luke Walton’s job was called into question.

LA’s general lack of cohesion should be torn to pieces by the Raptors, who will be able to create turnovers, but if the Raptors aren’t locked in, the Lakers will run the ball down their throat, especially now that Kawhi isn’t playing. — Matt Moore

Mears: What Weaknesses Could the Lakers Exploit?

In some ways, the Raptors are just a better version of the Lakers. Both squads have really pushed the pace offensively this year: The Lakers rank first in transition rate; the Raps rank third. Both teams thrive off steals and live rebounds to get into offensive sets quickly.

The Lakers have quite a few flaws that have been detailed at length by a million analysts. The Raptors don’t have as many, but one that could persist is rebounding the ball. Toronto ranks just 23rd in offensive rebound rate and a miserable 27th in defensive rebound rate.

That’s likely a byproduct of playing small and spacing the floor with guys like Serge Ibaka at the center spot. But it also leaves them a bit vulnerable down low, and JaVale McGee is about the only player LA has on its roster who can punish the Raps in that regard.

McGee historically hasn’t played a ton of minutes but has crept into the 30s several times this year. He was limited to 27 last night against the Blazers, perhaps in anticipation of tonight’s affair. Can he be a game-changer tonight?

And lastly, will that even matter? If the Lakers tried to pound the glass, which would lead to a slower, half-court game, they could just get out-executed. Toronto currently ranks fourth in half-court efficiency this season, and Kawhi is one of the best offensive players in the world in the half court.

It’s a Catch-22 for Luke Walton; I’ll be interested in how he plays this one. — Bryan Mears

Editor’s note: The opinions on this game are from the individual writers and are based on their research, analysis and perspective. They are independent of, and may not always match with, the algorithm-driven Best Bets from Sports Insights.

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