Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Dwight Howard and company invade the Air Canada Centre for what is arguably the most highly anticipated home game of the season for Raptors fans.
Start time: 1:00 PM ET
Probable starting lineups
Toronto: Jose Calderon, DeMar DeRozan, Landry Fields, Ed Davis, Aaron Gray (I’m assuming that Dwane Casey will want Gray’s bigger body on Dwight Howard to start, with Amir Johnson coming off of the bench)
Los Angeles: Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Metta World Peace, Pau Gasol, Dwight Howard (If the Lakers continue to take a cautious approach with Gasol, you might see Earl Clark start in his place with Pau coming off of the bench)
Toronto: Andrea Bargnani and Jonas Valanciunas remain out, while Linas Kleiza and Mickael Pietrus remain questionable
Los Angeles: Steve Blake and Jordan Hill are out
- These two teams are galaxies apart in terms of talent and experience, and the Lakers are actually finally starting to play well, but the Raptors always seem to give them a thrilling contest at the Air Canada Centre (The last four matchups at the ACC have all been decided by 10 points or less, with two of those games being decided by two points or less and the average margin being 4.75 points) and this game is technically like a 10:00 am start for the West coast Lakers, so we might be in store for a much closer game than many would expect when you hear Lakers/Raptors. In addition, L.A. is 5-12 on the road.
- Drew and Oliver seemed to think it was a ridiculous notion when I brought it up on the podcast, but I really do believe we’ll hear some boos for Steve Nash today. Believe me, I don’t think it’s warranted towards the greatest Canadian baller of all time and I certainly won’t join in or condone it, but you know how this fanbase can be, and Nash’s decision to say no to the Raptors is probably all some fans need as an excuse to boo him. It won’t be the majority, but I’d be willing to bet you’ll be able to hear at least a few.
- I can see this game being decided by the fact that the Raptors will have absolutely no answer for Dwight Howard inside given their depleted frontcourt, so the hope would have to be that the Raps can get Howard in foul trouble and that Gray can bother Dwight inside. It’s unlikely, but then again, the turning point in last season’s matchup in Toronto was when the Raptors put Jamaal Magloire on Andrew Bynum, so don’t discount the possible impact of a veteran with size like Gray. Oh wait, Aaron actually started that game and couldn’t handle Bynum…well then…
- Another deciding factor in whether the Raptors will have any chance at an upset will likely be how dominant Toronto’s bench can be. The Raptors currently boast the NBA’s sixth-best second unit at 38.5 points per game, while the Lakers’ 26th-ranked bench scores 26.5 points per game.
- The funniest development since the Lakers’ arrival on Saturday is the thought of Pau Gasol and Jose Calderon at dinner together in Toronto, talking to P.K. Subban about the Canadiens defenceman’s current contract limbo while Subban’s Habs were losing to the Leafs…true story
- I predicted a 1-3 week for the Raptors, but if that ends up coming to fruition with the lone win being against the Lakers, it will be quite the reminder of just how far the mighty have fallen.