Pregame Shoot Around: Lakers vs Raptors
Tonight it’s a matchup between the Lakers and the Raptors, as the Lakers will be looking to build off of their uplifting victory over the Wizards in their previous game. Let’s take a look at some of the key elements of tonight’s game and what to look for:
Lonzo effect – Last game Lonzo was able to step up to the challenge that was John Wall and acquitted himself very well. John Wall had one good quarter, but for the most part had a highly ineffective game thanks to the efforts of Lonzo Ball, and the defensive schemes employed by the Lakers overall, which we sill dive into later. His shot was absolutely broke this game, however the shots that he took were good, and within the context of the offense for the most part. I can still give him a pass for trying to find his jumper early in his NBA career. However, I’m struggling to understand why he is missing so many layups, and solid looks around the rim. If he is able to navigate his way into the paint and get off a good shot, he is going to need to be able to convert those at an efficient rate. In College Lonzo excelled in regards to hitting 3’s and finishing plays at the rim, by either passing to open teammate or scoring himself. So far in his career he has looked below average in those areas, finishing close to the rim is something that I would hope could be corrected sooner rather than later.
Tonight he goes up against Kyle Lowry, one of the premier point guards in the league. He won’t have the option of switching onto the shooting guard this game, because that would entail guarding DeMar DeRozan. I don’t know about you, but I’m not here to watch DeMar streaking past Ball and dunking all over our frontline, ain’t nobody got time for that. Similar to his last game against John Wall, I’m pretty sure Lonzo can expect to find himself in plenty of isolation situations. How he handles himself in regards to his on ball defense is critical in the Lakers having a chance to pull the upset.
So far this year Lonzo’s defense has been better than advertised in my estimation. However last game the Lakers deployed some defensive tactics, which involved a lot of switching to help stymie John Wall. This looked very familiar to the way Golden State tends to play defense at times where they employ a lineup that allows them to switch on everything. This has been a highly effective tactic for them, and obviously Luke has the intention on being able to employ that with the Lakers at times when he is able to do so. At one point the Lakers had Lonzo, KCP, Ingram, Kuzma, and Randle. Everybody was between 6’6” and 6’10” and the Lakers were able to switch everything. As noted on our previous show by Jeremiah, Lonzo was on Gortat in the post for brief periods, and didn’t get killed. Randle did a tremendous job on John Wall multiple times in the game when he was out there. It was a really good tactic to deploy and it looked like it really threw the Wizards off rhythm as they went into an absolute slump allowing the Lakers to eventually get back in the game, force overtime, and win it. I will be interested to see if the Lakers employ this tactic, and how the other team will react now that they have seen the Lakers use this in a previous game. It should be noted that Lowry has struggled a bit this season, so he may be looking at Lonzo Ball as a way to bounce back and get his season on track against the rookie.
Julius Randle – last game we sawa drop in minutes from Julius Randle during the game and he was noticeably absent the entire third quarter. However that didn’t stop him from staying in the game mentally, and coming up big when the Lakers needed him the most. Is Randle able to duplicate the inspired play he has showed the last two games. Or does he revert back to where he was the first two games when he was clearly bothered to be coming off the bench, and it seemed to affect his play? I tend to think he stays with the disposition that has been on display recently, and I would imagine this would also lead to an increase in minutes one way or another, which would not be a bad thing for the Lakers as a whole.
KCP – A pleasant surprise in me eyes, has been KCP. I was one of those people that was on his case because of his production during the preseason. However his first two games back from suspension he has been everything he was advertised to be and then some. He has clearly been the best perimeter defender, and the teams overall defense has returned since arrival. This was expected, but I did not expect the offensive production he has put up during the first two games. He has been scoring the ball wall all over the floor, and taking good shots for the most part. He has been highly efficient from the 3 point line hitting 41.7% so far. His ability to be a consistent threat while he is on the floor could make the Lakers backcourt rotation of Ball, KCP, and Clarkson a strength of the team. He will be called upon to matchup against DeMar DeRozan tonight, so we will see if he is able to continue his efficiency on both ends of the court.
Final Analysis: The Lakers showed a lot of competitive spirit when they were able to comeback from 20 points down, and almost defeat the New Orleans Pelicans. They showed this same effort during the Wiz after being down big, and then storming back to ultimately win the game in overtime. If the Lakers are able to sustain this kind of effort for a longer portion of the game. Or perhaps not find themselves in a deep hole by the team they turn up. They have the ability to pull off their second consecutive upset tonight. I got the Lakers pulling out another victory 108-101.
Don’t forget to subscribe to our podcast for our weekly show, and periodic post game wrap-ups. www.westcoastcrossover.com is the spot to go. Follow us on all your social media outlets as well located at the top of the page. -JD