The defending NBA champions, the Toronto Raptors (16-7), play host to the favourites to take the title this season, the LA Clippers (18-7), at the Scotiabank Arena on Wednesday evening.
Toronto Raptors Form
The Raptors ended a three-game losing streak with a narrow 93-92 road win at the Chicago Bulls on Monday night. The outcome could have been different, but Zach LaVine missed a runner in traffic along the left side for the Bulls in the closing seconds.
The Bulls also built an 85-77 lead in the fourth quarter, before the Raptors responded by scoring nine straight.
Pascal Siakam scored 22 points for Toronto, with Norman Powell adding 17 points. Raptors guard Fred VanVleet missed the game because of a bruised right knee, although the good news is that an MRI showed no structural damage.
Raptors v Clippers Stats
Looking at the statistical comparisons, the Raptors are currently averaging 111.7 Points per Game (PPG) and allowing 105.3 (PA), while the Clippers are averaging 115.1 PPG on the offensive end, while giving up 108.3 PA.
LA Clippers Form
The Clippers claimed a fourth win in five games with a 110-99 win on the road at the Indiana Pacers on Monday night, with Paul George scoring 36 points and nine rebounds on his third time back in Indianapolis.
Montrezl Harrell added 26 points and eight rebounds and Patrick Beverley chipped in with 11 points, 12 rebounds and five assists. Kawhi Leonard sat the game out on the second night of a back-to-back with a sore left knee.
The Clippers won 98-88 when they hosted the Raptors in the first meeting of the season between the teams back on November 11, although Toronto held Leonard to 2-for-11 shooting from the field and he finished with 12 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists.
Player Match Up: Pascal Siakam v Kawhi Leonard
The Match Up in this game is very much that between this season’s star player for the Raptors and the man who was instrumental in taking them to the NBA Championship last season.
Wednesday evening will be Kawhi’s first visit to Toronto since signing for the Clippers after his one lone season with the Raptors.
Pascal has taken the mantle from Leonard for the Raptors in scoring, where he currently has an average of 24.5 PPG. He adds 8.4 rebounds per game, 45.8 % while shooting from the floor and 81.1% from the free throw line.
For his part, Leonard is throwing 25.1 Points per Game (PPG) for the Clippers, with 7.9 rebounds per game and is at 44.7% when shooting from the floor. From the free throw line Kawhi’s at 85.3%.
Leonard has a slight statistical edge over his successor at the Raptors, but it is only marginal. From a Toronto perspective the hope is that he won’t come back to haunt his former teammates with a match-winning performance.
Toronto Raptors vs LA Clippers Betting Lines & Pick
This will be the Raptors first home-court game since back to back losses at home. The Raptors don’t have a great record against the elite teams this season, but the Clippers are only 5-6 on the road, so Toronto are the tips to prevail in this one.
NBA Picks: Money Line – Toronto Raptors @ +115 (2.15) with bet365