The Toronto Raptors have been pushed around by some of the NBA’s best teams lately, dropping three of their last four in matchups against the Celtics, Nets, and Pelicans. But they are in a nice spot to bounce back Wednesday night against the visiting Los Angeles Lakers.
The Lakers will be playing their second half of a back-to-back after falling to the Cavaliers in Cleveland last night. But more importantly for the Lakers, the white-hot Anthony Davis was forced to leave the game with flu-like symptoms and will miss this one. So, too, will LeBron James.
Can the Raptors take advantage of this situation, or is the double-digit spread too much for them to cover? I break it all down and bring you my best bet in tonight's NBA picks and predictions for Lakers vs. Raptors.
Lakers vs Raptors best odds
Lakers vs Raptors picks and predictions
It appears as though oddsmakers have adjusted the spread to account for the absences of Anthony Davis and LeBron James, but they may not have done so with the total because 228.5 seems a little too high.
Davis has been reminding us that he can be arguably the best player on the planet... when fully healthy. AD was averaging 35.3 points and 15.6 rebounds over his last nine games, and his absence was immediately felt when he left yesterday's game against the Cavaliers.
After putting up at least 115 points in five straight games — and 128 in four of them — the Lakers' poor shooting was exposed without Davis and a team that ranks 22nd in offensive rating put up just 102 points, which included shooting just 17% from 3-point range. And that was with LeBron on the floor.
Now, the shorthanded Lakers will be going against a healthy and tenacious Raptors defense. Toronto does a great job of switching and getting in the passing lanes. As a result, the team ranks seventh in the NBA in defensive rating and leads the Association in steals per game.
But even with Pascal Siakam back, the Raptors offense is still a work in progress. When the Raps aren’t getting out and running in the transition game, the half-court offense can stall. That’s in part due to the team ranking next-to-last in the NBA when it comes to effective field goal percentage. And it doesn’t help that All-Star Fred VanVleet is in a prolonged slump.
And while the Lakers offense has struggled this season, the effort on defense has been there, as the team ranks 10th in defensive rating.
Combine the Raptors' style of play with the Lakers playing their second game in as many nights without AD — and now LBJ — and the total of 228.5 is too high.
My best bet: Under 228 (-107 at PointsBet)
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Lakers vs Raptors spread analysis
It seems like we can sometimes forget how dominant Davis can be when he’s operating at 100%. We’ve seen his tremendous impact on the court over the last few weeks and now we are seeing it on the betting line as well.
A day after the Lakers were 5.5-point underdogs in Cleveland against a very good Cavaliers team, they opened 9.5-point underdogs with Davis questionable and then moved to 11.5 with the news that both AD and LeBron would sit this one out.
But even without Davis and James, it feels a little difficult to back the Raptors at a number this high against, well, basically anyone at this point.
The Raptors have been 9.5-point favorites or greater just twice this season. They are 2-0 straight up and 1-1 ATS in those games, covering in a recent matchup against Orlando but failing to do so against Houston. Toronto has also played down to the level of its competition lately and is just 1-6 ATS in its last seven games against teams with losing records.
But the biggest factor keeping me away from laying with the Raptors here is once again their inconsistent offense against a solid Lakers defense. But it’s hard to have faith in the Lakers without their two superstars on the floor. So, I’ll stay away.
Lakers vs Raptors Over/Under analysis
The total for this matchup hit the board at roughly 226 and early bettors jumped on the Over, moving the number up to the 228 it sits at as of Wednesday afternoon. And as I’ve broken down, this number is just too high.
Straight up, the Lakers just aren’t good at shooting the basketball. Los Angeles ranks 21st in effective field goal percentage and 28th in 3-point shooting percentage. And that's in a season where LeBron and AD have played most games. So, they'll have problems generating much offense against this stingy Raptors defense.
Meanwhile, Toronto ranks 22nd in the NBA in scoring at 110.8 points per game.
On top of that, the Raptors, despite their frantic efforts on defense, rank 24th when it comes to pace of play. And with the Lakers missing both Davis and James, you can expect Darvin Ham to slow down the offense a bit, as opposed to their regular run-up-and-down-the-floor style.
Lakers vs Raptors betting trend to know
The Raptors don't usually put up consecutive poor efforts on defense. The Under is 5-1 in the Raptors' last six games following a game in which they allowed 100 points or more. Find more NBA betting trends for Lakers vs. Raptors.
Lakers vs Raptors game info
|Location:||Scotiabank Arena, Toronto, ON|
|Date:||Wednesday, December 7, 2022|
|Tip-off:||7:30 p.m. ET|
|TV:||Spectrum SportsNet, TSN|