The Toronto Raptors will be hosting one of the hottest teams in the NBA on Friday night as the Los Angeles Clippers come to town for the teams’ second and final matchup this season. The Clippers eked out a 126-120 victory when they first met, earlier this month.
The Clippers will be brimming with confidence, having won 10 of their last 12, and with Paul George set to be back from a groin injury. The Clippers appear to have turned themselves into genuine title contenders, boasting a 28-14 record, putting them fourth in the West — just two games off of first.
Toronto, however, comes into this game having won just two of their last 10, making them 16-28 and sitting in 12th place in the East. Still, the Raptors are just two games off of the 10th seed and an entry into the Play-In Tournament. A win against the Clippers could build some serious momentum as we approach the halfway point of the season.
Bet on Clippers vs. Raptors
Clippers vs. Raptors odds
|Clippers Moneyline Odds
|Raptors Moneyline Odds
|235.5 points (over -110, under -110)
|Clippers -7.5 (-110)
|Jan. 26, 7:30 p.m. ET
Stream: NBA League Pass
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About the Clippers (28-14 SU, 23-19 ATS, 19-22-1 o/u)
The Clippers seemingly turned a corner at the start of December and now the entire NBA is on alert. At the end of November, the Clippers had a disappointing 8-10 record amid growing worries that the James Harden trade had been a colossal mistake. Perhaps it was players getting healthy or the new lineup starting to gel, but since the beginning of December, the Clippers have gone 20-4, the best record in the NBA.
As might be expected with the addition of James Harden’s playmaking abilities, the Clippers are thriving on offence. At the same time, they still rank in the top half of the NBA in defensive rating. When healthy, Kawhi Leonard and Paul George are still two of the best wing defenders in the NBA. It’s a lineup with star power and balance, and it’s not surprising to see them in the conversation to go all the way.
This season, the Clippers are led by Kawhi Leonard’s 23.7 and Paul George’s 23.5 points per game. James Harden is third on the team with 17.3 points and 8.5 assists per game. They are led in rebounding by Ivica Zubac, who averages 9.7 a game though he will be missing Friday night due to injury. Meanwhile, Russell Westbrook anchors their bench, contributing 11.3 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 4.7 assists per game.
About the Raptors (16-28 SU, 20-23-1 ATS, 23-21 o/u)
While the Raptors have faltered as of late, it’s not a complete surprise, given the high-profile trades which have made for a somewhat chaotic atmosphere around the organization. Still, the rest of the East hasn’t taken advantage, and Toronto sits just a mere two games back of the 10th seed — which would be good enough for the Play-In Tournament.
After trading away OG Anunoby and Precious Achiuwa for R.J. Barrett and Immanuel Quickley at the end of December, and then trading away All-NBA performer Pascal Siakam just over a week ago, Toronto has signalled that it’s transition time. Though not necessarily a complete rebuild, it does seem like something of a strategic reset, with the new face of the franchise, Scottie Barnes, at the centre of things.
Barnes, for his part, has continued to struggle with consistency since the start of the new year. The third-year budding star has scored ten or fewer points in a total of four games this season. Three of them have come this month. This after he had started the season averaging career highs in nearly every statistical category. But Barnes is young, and these struggles won’t have Raptors management tearing their hair out just yet.
In the meantime, the Raps have R.J. Barrett, acquired in the Anunoby trade, who’s been scoring just under 21 points and 7.2 rebounds per game. But apart from him — and considering Immanuel Quickley won’t play Friday night — it certainly seems like Toronto may struggle to find consistent scoring options in the short term.
Scottie Barnes over 6.5 assists
- The Raptors have announced that centre Jakob Poeltl (ankle) and guard Immanuel Quickley (right thigh) will be out for Friday evening’s contest.
- The Clippers will be missing their starting centre as well, being without Ivica Zubac (right calf), who has been out since January 16th. They announced Tuesday that he will be reevaluated in four weeks. Forward Moussa Diabate (right hand) will also be out.
- The Raptors are 1-5 ATS in their last six games, a clear downward trend.
- While the Raptors have a respectable 23-21 record of reaching the Over, that number falls to 9-13 when at home and their last five games have all hit the Under.
- The Clippers are ninth in the league ATS with a 23-19 record and rise to seventh as the road favourite. They are 9-3 in their last 12 games.
- Los Angeles has seen five of their prior six contests reach the Over but for the season, the Clippers rank seventh overall at hitting the Under.
Player Prop Trends
- Kawhi Leonard has hit at least two threes in nine of his 11 games played in January. He’s also grabbed at least six rebounds in eight of those contests.
- Paul George has done his part, making at least three three-pointers in nine of his 11 games in January. His last two games were his lowest scoring, but he was battling a reaggravated groin injury, making them something of an outlier.
- Though not a superstar, Toronto native R.J. Barrett has been the closest thing to one lately for the struggling Raps. In his last five games, he’s averaging 23.2 points and 7.6 rebounds per game.
- In his last five games, Scottie Barnes has seen an uptick in his rebounds, assists, and blocks per game averaging 8.6 boards, 6.2 assists, and 2.4 blocks respectively.
Wagers to Consider
- Game Total Under 235.5 Points (-110): The Raptors will be entering this contest on a full three days of rest. Toronto is tied for second in the league for the worst record in hitting the Over on two days of rest or more. The only team with a worse record? The Los Angeles Clippers.
- Scottie Barnes Over 6.5 Assists (-125): With Quickley out, Barnes will transition over to playing point guard and should continue to see an uptick in his assists. It does seem that even when Barnes struggles to score, he can still be relied upon as a playmaker.
- James Harden Over 8.5 Assists (-135): Harden has been averaging nearly 10 assists per game in January and seems to have found his groove in the Clippers’ offence, even increasing his volume from deep as of late.