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Raptors vs. Clippers Preview Article


CTG Super Moderator
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Raptors vs. Clippers Picks & Predictions March 8: Raptors to Bounce Back Against Struggling Clippers

Best Bet: Raptors +3.5 at -110 with BetOnline

Toronto Raptors vs. Los Angeles Clippers
Wednesday, March 8, 2023 at 9 p.m. ET at crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles, California

Key Trend

The decisive trend that will influence tonight's result is the following: Toronto is enjoying a 4-0 SU run following a loss.

This trend is especially useful to tonight's game because the Raptors are the underdog.

So, in suggesting that the Raptors will win, this trend also indicates that they will cover.

It is evident from this trend that Toronto is extra-focused following a loss.

But it is also true that the Raptors are taking care of business: while they've lost to strong teams like Denver, they've beaten easier teams like Chicago and Washington.

Fade The Clippers

One might ask whether the Clippers really count as an "easier team" to beat.

Right now, they are.

This might seem surprising given the recent addition of veteran guard Russell Westbrook to the team.

While Westbrook might make the Clippers look better on paper and while this would make the Clippers better in the world of video games, in real life there are matters of chemistry and team play to consider -- basketball is, after all, a team sport, and Russell isn't exactly known for being a great team player.

His team's results since acquiring him speak for themselves: the Clippers are 1-5 SU with Westbrook.

Their one win came against a Memphis team that is dealing with distraction as a result of Ja Morant's incurring a suspension after he flashed a gun.

Paul George and Kawhi Leonard both had to blast past 30 points in order for the Clippers to eke past the Grizzlies who are themselves mired in a losing streak.

Bad Defense from Clipper Guards

Since joining the Clippers, Westbrook's defense has been abysmal.

The same is true of that of the other Clipper guards.

Evidence for this is in their poor defensive ratings.

Their poor defense has made it easier for opposing guards to thrive.

Most recently, for example, Memphis' backup point guard -- who was playing for Morant -- Tyus Jones shot five of seven from deep en route to a 25-point scoring output.

Fellow Grizzly guard Desmond Bane scored 30 points partly by converting four of his nine three-point attempts.

Another Memphis guard, Luke Kennard, also shot five-for-five from behind the arc.

Toronto Guards

One may expect Toronto's guards to prolong the defensive woes of their Clipper counterparts.

The top Raptor scoring guards are Fred VanVleet and Gary Trent, two high-volume shooters who are known for their prowess from behind the arc.

VanVleet is intelligent about finding spaces for himself to get open in before catching and shooting from behind the arc.

He is also creative in pick-and-roll situations where Trent Jr. is one guy whom he may find behind the arc.

Raptor Forwards

But the Raptors will also receive ample scoring from their forwards.

With a starting center who likes to park himself around the basket, the Clippers tend to leave exposed spaces in the mid-range where the likes of Raptor forwards Pascal Siakam and Scottie Barnes are comfortable executing.

Toronto's Defensive Outlook

Aging Westbrook has mustered nine points in two of his last three games.

He is likelier to lay such an egg because he is a characteristically awful three-point shooter, making him offensively one-dimensional.

But Westbrook's explosiveness has also declined relative to his better years.

On offense, the Clippers remain overly dependent on PG and Kawhi, who are unlikely again to carry their team with a combined output of over 70 points, as they did in their last game.

Without fellow guard Kennard, the Clippers' three-point shooting also takes a hit.

They are shooting 31 percent from deep in their past three games.

This decline underscores the team's lack of support for its two star scorers.

The Verdict

Expect Toronto to rely on its mixture of guards and forwards to bounce back against a struggling Clipper team plagued by vulnerable defense, Russell's addition to the team, and insufficient scoring support.

For the above reasons, invest in the Raptors to win and to cover the spread.

Best Bet: Raptors ML at +140 with BetOnline