Photo Credit: Sports Illustrated, SI.com
The Toronto Raptors are back at the Staples Center as they continue their West Coast road trip tonight with a late game against the Los Angeles Clippers. After defeating the Los Angeles Lakers Sunday night, the Raps are looking for back-to-back wins against both LA teams. This will be the first of two meetings against the Clippers this season for the Raptors with both games coming just one week apart from each other. The Raptors have a tough test tonight facing a Clippers team with the second best offensive rating in the league.
With a loss Saturday against the Denver Nuggets, the Clippers have lost three straight and dropped one spot in the Western Conference to fourth place. Despite this current losing skid, they have secured a playoff position thanks to the Raptors’ win over the Lakers. The Raptors are still in pursuit of the final play-in spot, however it will take a lot of work to make the tenth seed. Holding a 27-38 record in the East, the Raps are sitting three games behind the Washington Wizards for the final spot.
It will be a Raptors reunion with the Clippers who are led by former Raptor and 2019 NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard. This is Kawhi’s second season with the Clippers after signing with them and leaving the Raptors in the 2019 off-season. Back after missing five games with a right foot injury, the two-way superstar continues to put up impressive numbers this season, currently averaging 25.5 PPG, 6.6 RPG and 5.1 APG. The Clippers will be without former Raptor Serge Ibaka, who followed Kawhi and signed with them for this 2021 season. He is sidelined with a back injury and will watch the reunion from the sidelines.
The Raps also have to worry about Kawhi’s fellow All-Star teammate Paul George who continues to be a dominant two-way threat in the regular season. PG-13 is having another great year with Kawhi, averaging similar numbers with 23.7 PPG, 6.6 RPG and 5.2 APG this season.
The Raptors will look to their starters to carry most of the offensive load tonight and build on Sunday’s game against the Lakers. Kyle Lowry and Pascal Siakam each had phenomenal performances with impressive double doubles, finishing with a combined 76 points, 15 rebounds, 15 assists and 12 triples. Lowry and Siakam will need to continue their strong play and provide solid impacts on both ends of the floor if they’re going to win the matchup against their old teammates.
The Raptors hope to have starters OG Anunoby and Fred VanVleet back who were both late scratches for Sunday’s game. The Raps will still be without Chris Boucher (sprained MCL), Gary Trent Jr. (lower leg) and Paul Watson Jr. for tonight’s game. They will rely on Khem Birch and Freddie Gillespie in the frontcourt to try and stop Clippers’ bigs Ivica Zubac and newly signed Demarcus Cousins.
Make sure to tune into the game Tuesday night with a late 10:00 p.m. EST start.