Raptors Look To Make Major Statement Against Kawhi, Clippers

It'll be Leonard's first game back in Toronto

Keith Allison, Flickr

Clippers (18-7) at Raptors (16-7)

Wednesday, December 10th, 7:05pm EST

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  • The Los Angeles Clippers (18-7) travel to Scotiabank Arena to take on the Toronto Raptors (16-7) on Wednesday night. 

  • It will be the first time that NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard returns to Toronto since deciding to leave in free agency this past offseason. 

  • The Clippers are in the fourth game of their six-game road trip and are coming off a 110-99 victory over the Indiana Pacers on Monday. They’ve won four of their last five and have gone 13-11 ATS this season overall. The over has gone 10-15 in their games. Los Angeles has gone just 5-6 SU and 4-7 on the road.

  • The Raptors have lost three of their last four games, but are coming off a gritty one-point road win over the Chicago Bulls. They’ve gone 13-10 ATS and the over has gone 12-11 in their contests so far. They’ve gone 9-2 SU at home (8-3 ATS), but it’s worth mentioning that they’ve lost and failed to cover in each of their last two home contests. 

  • BetQL’s NBA Model lists a best bet against the spread, on the moneyline and on the total. Find out what they are!

Clippers

Before we get into Los Angeles’ team numbers, it’s worth mentioning that it’s best to take these with a grain of salt. Keep in mind that Paul George missed time at the beginning of the season and Kawhi Leonard tends to miss games due to the dreaded “load management” designation. With the two superstars on the court, like they’re expected to be on Wednesday, and with Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell manning the second unit, the Clippers are a formidable opponent for anyone and are a legitimate title contender. 

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Nonetheless, let’s get into the stats. LA ranks 6th in the NBA in points per game (115.1), 12th in field goal percentage (46.2), 17th in three-point percentage (35.5), 21st in assists per game (23.3), 23rd in turnovers per game (16.0) and 8th in offensive rating (110.5). While those numbers are slightly surprising, they’ve been solid defensively, ranking 7th in defensive rating (103.9), 3rd in opponent field goal percentage (42.8) and 6th in opponent points in the paint per game (43.6). They rank 6th in pace and consistently like to push the ball up the floor, which makes their games exciting to watch, while a team-first philosophy is preached under the tutelage and guidance of coach Doc Rivers. 

Raptors 

Although Toronto just got back both Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka from their respective injuries, Fred VanVleet (knee) missed their last game and is questionable for this contest. If he sits again, expect Norman Powell to pick up the start alongside Lowry, Pascal Siakam, Marc Gasol and O.G. Anunoby. The defending champions will likely want to make a loud statement to Leonard and to the rest of the NBA, proving that they’re still a contender out of the East despite losing the Finals MVP in free agency. 

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The Raptors rank 12th in points per game (111.7), 16th in field goal percentage (45.3), 3rd in three-point percentage (38.1), 8th in assists per game (25.3), 16th in turnovers per game (15.4) and 11th in offensive rating (109.3). Defensively, like the Clippers, they’ve been elite, ranking 5th in defensive rating (103.2), 2nd in opponent field goal percentage (41.2) and 2nd in opponent points in the paint per game (41.7). This will be a pace-up spot for them, as they rank 14th in that metric. 

Note: VanVleet’s status is particularly important for Toronto. Not only would Nick Nurse be able to mix-and-match to ensure that either Lowry and VanVleet is on the court against Williams and Ibaka is on the court against Harrell, but VanVleet’s ball-handling ability has been a savior for the Raptors in many games this season, with and without Lowry on the floor. Therefore, it’s important to keep an eye on if he suits up for shootaround and any news that’s released before tipoff. 

Prediction

BetQL’s NBA Model lists a best bet against the spread, on the moneyline and on the total. Find out what they are!