Three teams the Toronto Raptors want to face and three they want to avoid

Toronto Raptors - Kyle Lowry (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
Toronto Raptors - Kyle Lowry (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images) /
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The Raptors do not want to play the Los Angeles Lakers

LeBron James
LeBron James (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images) /

The Los Angeles Lakers return to the NBA Playoffs for the first time in seven years.  They are poised to make a thunderous return if all goes well. After acquiring Anthony Davis before the draft in 2019 and some front-office drama to boot, they rebuilt this roster. Rajon Rondo Kyle Kuzma and LeBron James are holdovers from last season.

While the rebuild for the Clippers seems shaky, the Lakers did it with arguably the best player in the game and added a top-five player in Anthony Davis and several useful support players. What makes the Lakers a serious threat to the Raptors hopes of a repeat, should they return to the NBA Finals, Is the Lakers have length and are athletic around the basket.

The Raptors have Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka but the Lakers employ Anthony Davis, Javale McGee, and Dwight Howard. This group of centers/power forwards grab nearly 23 rebounds per game.  If you include LeBron James, a power forward, that number jumps to over 30 per game. The Lakers are eighth while the Raptors are 12th in rebounding. A key factor should this match up develop would be the battle of the boards. Both teams are one and two in the NBA averaging 19 plus points on the fast break usually facilitated by defensive rebounding where the Lakers would have the edge in a head to head matchup.

Both teams would need to be at their absolute best defensively as the Lakers are rated third right behind the second-rated Toronto Raptors. However, the Lakers are the better team, offensively, averaging 114.3 points per game and are seventh overall in the NBA.

There is the issue of the Raptors failing to find a way to slow down, stop and get past the LeBron James led Cleveland Cavaliers from 2016-2018 winning just two playoff games out of 14 in those series (two semi-finals and an Eastern Conference Final in 2016). Back then, The Raptors did not have a player that could lockdown James defensively.

While the Raptors are a better team now than then, Siakam, Anunoby, and Ibaka could be rotated as primary defenders but using power forwards or centers to guard James creates mismatches in the post for the Lakers big men and James averages 10.6 assists per game as it is.  The Raptors are a versatile team defensively, but their lack of size could be a nightmare against the bigger Lakers.

Should head coach Nick Nurse employ zone defense, the Lakers are 17th in three-point percentage but Alex Caruso, Danny Green, LeBron James, and Caldwell-Pope all shoot the three at over 35 percent.

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For what its worth, the Toronto Raptors did beat the Lakers 113-104 on November 10th, 2019.