Kyle Lowry Must Help The Raptors Send A Message Against The Lakers

Riding one of his best seasons as a pro, Toronto's point guard needs to take over

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  • The Toronto Raptors come into the NBA restart at 46-18 and are currently second in the Eastern Conference, 6.5 games behind the Milwaukee Bucks.

  • Kyle Lowry has been having an excellent year, averaging 19.7 points and 7.7 assists per game.

  • The Raptors open the re-start this Saturday against the Los Angeles Lakers. The Raptors (+150) are 4.0-point underdogs to the Lakers (-180), with the over/under at 215 total points.

  • Visit our game predictions page to see which bet our NBA model prefers in this battle between Toronto and Los Angeles this Saturday!

No Kawhi, No Problem

If someone told you the Toronto Raptors would have a better record at this point of the season than they did last year without Kawhi Leonard, you’d probably scoff at the notion. Either that, or you knew something that most people didn’t, because while most expected the Raptors to be good and a playoff team, few thought they’d be ranked second in the Eastern Conference at 46-18.

The main driving force behind the Raptors success has been Pascal Siakam, who has emerged as one of the best players in the conference. Siakam is averaging 23.7 points and 7.5 rebounds this season and has been a force. Alas, the Raptors defense has been great. They rank first in points against (106.5 per game), second in turnovers created (16.8 per game), second in field goal percentage against (42.9 percent), and first in three-point field goal percentage against (33.7 percent).

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A Lowry Takeover

The Raptors, as defending champions, have made it clear by their performance that they are not a team that should be overlooked. The key player that could lead the Raptors back to the finals is veteran point guard Kyle Lowry. While defense will keep the Raptors in games, and Siakam will carry the load in most games, the Raptors will need Lowry to step up as a scorer in the playoffs if they want to make a deep run. Last year, he was not counted on as much to score with Leonard and Siakam doing the heavy lifting. With Leonard gone, Lowry, who is averaging 19.7 points per game, will be relied upon to be the number-two. 

Lowry has had his best offensive year since 2016-17, when he averaged 22.4 points per game. The 19.7 points per game is the third-highest of his career. Lowry is shooting 41.7 percent from the floor and 35.4 percent from three, so he’ll have to improve on those numbers in the playoffs.

Sending A Message

Toronto's first game when is this Saturday against the Los Angeles Lakers, the team that DraftKings Sportsbook says has the best chance of winning the title at +250. This is a great, early test for the Raptors, who beat the Lakers back in November, the only time they have played so far this year. Against the other top-four teams in the NBA this year -- the Los Angeles Clippers, Milwaukee Bucks, Denver Nuggets, and Boston Celtics -- they are just 1-7, with the lone win coming against the Celtics. A win Saturday versus the Lakers might send a message that they are ready to defend their title. But to have a shot, they’ll need Lowry to step up in a big way.

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