Where: Scotiabank Arena, Toronto, ON, CA
When: 12:00 p.m. PST
How to Watch/Listen: FOX Sports Prime Ticket, AM 570 Radio
Projected Starting Lineups:
Toronto Raptors: Kyle Lowry, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, Pascal Siakam, Serge Ibaka
LA Clippers: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Avery Bradley, Patrick Beverley, Tobias Harris, Marcin Gortat
Raptors: Jonas Valanciunas (broken left thumb) — OUT, Malachi Richardson (sore right knee) — OUT
Clippers: Danilo Gallinari (back spasms) — OUT, Luc Mbah a Moute (sore left knee) — OUT
The Big Picture:
The Clippers have lost some of the shine of their strong early-season start and have settled in as essentially an average team. That was reflected in this past week, as they won two of their four games, losing a game they probably should not have to Atlanta, but putting together a spirited and historic comeback from 25 points down to defeat Detroit yesterday.
The come-from-behind win was an excellent start to a season-long six-game road trip. LA was also thrilled to witness the return of Lou Williams’ jump shot, as he busted out of a mini-slump and exploded for 39 points. However, there was a minor setback in the form of Tobias Harris’ shoulder injury. Already missing the scoring, playmaking, and general excellence of Danilo Gallinari, who said Wednesday he could be back within the week, the Clippers can ill afford to lose more firepower from their starting lineup. Williams started the second half to key the comeback against the Pistons, but he and the team have expressed reluctance to have him start games. Furthermore, the Clippers already face a size deficit in the starting lineup without Gallinari in the lineup; they’re getting outrebounded and not getting to the free-throw line as frequently.
Speaking of bullies, the Toronto Raptors basically punked the Clippers when the two teams met back in December. LA was on the second game of a back-to-back for that contest as well, and unfortunately, Toronto once again boasts a rest advantage, having not played since Thursday at home.
“We just didn’t play well, didn’t have a lot of energy. I just thought from the start you could see them pushing the pace at us the entire game, and then we really never caught up to it,” Doc Rivers said after the Dec. 11 game. “Tonight we just gave in to their offensive pressure, I thought they played downhill the entire night.”
The major difference between this matchup and the previous one for the Raptors is that Kawhi Leonard should be available this time around. Leonard is obviously one of the best players in the league and will pose a stiff challenge for the Clippers wing defenders. However, Toronto doesn’t play with nearly as much pace with Leonard in the game, which would benefit the Clippers and their porous transition defense. The Raptors are also in a bit of a funk of their own, having lost four of eight following a five-game winning streak.
What to watch for:
- The Raptors have a lot of size on the wing, which is always a problem, but especially now for the Clippers, since Harris is at the four. Assuming Avery Bradley starts on Kyle Lowry, that puts Shai Gilgeous-Alexander on Danny Green and Patrick Beverley on Leonard. This might be a good day to dust off Ty Wallace, since he’s a bit bigger than the other options LA has to defend Leonard.
- Montrezl Harrell was neutralized by the heft of Jonas Valanciunas in the first game, but Valanciunas is out today. Greg Monroe is still a big body off the bench and could present trouble for Harrell even if he lacks the physicality of Valanciunas. Given the way the Clippers struggled out of the gate against both the Lakers and the Pistons, starting Harrell makes a lot of sense, especially because Serge Ibaka isn’t that much bigger than him.
- The lone bright spot in the December matchup was Milos Teodosic, who is presently not traveling with the team. Given the dearth of playmakers in the lineup, it seems like a perfect opportunity to put the ball in SGA’s hands more often, particularly in his first pro game in his hometown.
Check out the opposing perspective at Raptors HQ, and enjoy the game!