It won't be the return to Toronto where Kawhi Leonard will receive his second championship ring, but it will still be every bit intriguing when Leonard faces his former team for the first time after winning a championship in June. The Los Angeles Clippers have been as dominant as advertised -- even without Paul George -- while the Toronto Raptors have been a pleasant surprise this season with a 7-2 record.
Many thought that after Leonard and Danny Green left for their respective L.A. teams, the Raptors were going to regress significantly, and even try and look for buyers for the expiring contracts of Marc Gasol, Serge Ibaka and even Kyle Lowry. They won their championship, but now it was time to focus on the future with Pascal Siakam as the new leading man and try to build around him in the coming years. Instead, what's happened is Toronto looks like a serious Eastern Conference contender to get back to the Finals, and Siakam has taken that proverbial leap to becoming a true No. 1 scoring option.
The Clippers may have the reigning Finals MVP on their roster, but each team brings some firepower to this matchup. There's plenty of storylines for this game, so let's see what to expect from both sides and make some predictions.
How to Watch
- Date: Monday, Nov. 11 | 10:30 p.m. ET
- Location: Staples Center -- Los Angeles, California
- TV: NBATV | Stream: fuboTV (watch for free)
- Odds: LAC -110 | TOR -110 | O/U 223
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Clippers: Los Angeles eked out a win against the struggling Portland Trail Blazers behind 26 points, eight assists and three blocks from Lou Williams. Despite the Clippers' success so far this season, it has been overshadowed by the conversation of load management regarding Leonard. So far, Leonard has sat out two games, both of which the Clippers lost. He looked refreshed, however, when he dropped 27 points in the win over Portland. How Leonard is used throughout the regular season will continue to be a topic of conversation across the league, and when Paul George returns it will most likely include him, too.
Regardless, the Clippers have looked like one of the top few teams in the West that stand above the rest to start the season. Their offense has been elite, but their 3-point defense needs some improvement. They allow opponents to shoot 3s at a 36 percent clip, which is on the higher end of the spectrum, but they make up for it by allowing only 42.4 points in the paint, which is fifth-best in the league.
Raptors: The Clippers' 3-point defense will be tested against the Raptors, as they are the second-best 3-point shooting team in the league, knocking them down nearly 40 percent of the time. Toronto is coming off a huge win against the Los Angeles Lakers, and that was without Lowry (fractured thumb) and Ibaka (sprained ankle), who are both out for a considerable amount of time with their injuries. Still, led by Siakam and Fred VanVleet, the Raptors were able to take down the Lakers' stifling defense. Toronto will need to get help from its bench unit, which has not gotten off to a great start this season. The Raptors' bench only generate 31 points a night, which is seventh-worst in the league, while the Clippers have the best scoring bench in the NBA averaging 50 points a contest.
With Lowry and Ibaka out, the Raptors will need their bench to produce in order to keep pace with the scoring that Williams and Montrezl Harrell provide for the Clippers.
Game prediction, pick
Being down two key players, it makes sense why the Clippers are favored by 10 points. If Williams or Harrell go off for another big scoring performance, in addition to Leonard, it may be too much for the short-handed Raptors to overcome. The matchup to watch here is Leonard vs. Siakam. No longer teammates, the two will likely be tasked with guarding each other every trip down the floor. Both are capable of guarding each other though Leonard might make life just a little tougher for Siakam. If that's the case, then big scoring performances will need to come from VanVleet and Norman Powell. Pick: Clippers (-10)