After a thrilling victory in their opening seeding game on Thursday night, the Los Angeles Lakers can officially clinch the Western Conference’s No. 1 seed with a win over the Toronto Raptors.
Though, that also can be secured by way of the L.A. Clippers losing to the New Orleans Pelicans. Their matchup tips-off at 3 p.m. PT.
If it is left in the Lakers’ hands, wrapping up the best record in the West may far easier said than done, as the Raptors are one of the NBA’s most efficient teams. Much like last season when the team had Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green, very few actually recognize the Raptors as a top tier championship contender, despite the fact that all statistics would show they are.
Where the Raptors shine this season is on defense, as they have the league’s second-best defensive rating. However, this will be Toronto’s first regular season game in the bubble, meaning they still might not be back to regular season form.
Containing the Raptors offensive attack is difficult due to how balanced their roster is, but the job starts with the Lakers stopping Pascal Siakam. Siakam – despite winning most improved player in 2019 – is a contender for the award yet again as his game continues to take leaps.
With Toronto also having Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka on their roster, the job of slowing Siakam may befall LeBron James at times, who has already had his hands full in the NBA restart against Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. Anthony Davis will likely take his turns defending Siakam as well.
Beyond just cementing the No. 1 seed, the Lakers may want to win for historical purposes, as the Raptors have won 10 consecutive head-to-head meetings. The streak dates all the way back to November of 2014. Despite that, the Lakers still have a 28-18 all time record against the Raptors.
The Lakers and Raptors met once in the 2019-20 season, all the way back in November. It was the ninth game of the season for both teams, and Toronto snapped L.A.’s seven-game winning streak.
The Lakers will undoubtedly be motivated to clinch the No. 1 seed in this game, so they can spend the last six seeding games resting players and really locking down their rotation. However, with a team like the Raptors, it may be an extremely difficult task.
Lakers (50-14) vs. Raptors (46-18)
5:30 p.m. PT, Aug. 1, 2020
ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, Orlando, Florida
TV: ESPN, Spectrum SportsNet
Radio: ESPN L.A. 710
Projected Lakers Starting Lineup:
PG: LeBron James
SG: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
SF: Danny Green
PF: Anthony Davis
C: JaVale McGee
Key Reserves: Kyle Kuzma, Alex Caruso, Dion Waiters, Dwight Howard, Markieff Morris
Projected Raptors Starting Lineup:
PG: Kyle Lowry
SG: Fred VanVleet
SF: OG Anunoby
PF: Pascal Siakam
C: Serge Ibaka
Key Reserves: Norman Powell, Marc Gasol, Terence Davis, Chris Boucher, Matt Thomas, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson
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