Imman Adan and Asad Alvi discuss the keys to the Raptors defeating the Lakers and the importance of Scottie Barnes maintaining his aggression throughout a game. Listen to the full episode on the 'Raptors Over Everything' podcast feed.
IMMAN ADAN: This is going to be a big one. I mean, this is a big one for both of these teams. The Lakers obviously have hopes and dreams of making the playoffs.
The Raptors have hopes and dreams of making the playoffs, and this has kind of been a really tough road stretch. The Lakers will be, I think, the least formidable team the Raptors have played on this stretch. So it should be one that you're looking at as hopefully a W. But what do you see looking at that Lakers game?
ASAD ALVI: That's basically the game that you have to wait on this trip. Again, looking at this stretch, it was like, Lakers, Clip-- sorry, Denver, Clippers, Lakers, and then Denver again. So you're hoping, OK, you look at that Denver game.
You very much. Have a chance there. You lose it at the end, right? Sure, there's altitude and those things, but you feel confident, like, you played a good game against Denver.
In a rematch, I would feel comfortable. I think the Raptors have a good shot of taking that game in a rematch. This Clippers game, always going to be a tough match-up. It's probably going to be a loss. You have to eat that.
How do you get out of this four game stretch 2 and 2? You've got to win this Lakers game. They don't have LeBron James.
DeAngelo Russell might be returning. But in any case, the Lakers have been a team that the Raptors have been able to beat consistently as long as they've been healthy. Pascal Siakam has had no issues, really, with the Lakers.
The Lakers, again, they have Anthony Davis playing his best basketball of the season. Jared Vanderbilt's been great for them defensively. With him and Davis on the floor, they've been incredible defensively.
But the Lakers are going to struggle on offense same way the Raptors might struggle in the half court. So it is a team that if they don't have DeAngelo Russell, again, you're playing a team that doesn't really have a real point guard. So you can turn them over a lot more.
The Lakers also do lack large wing defenders. Like, their best guys are the guys that got at the deadline in Malik Beasley and Jared Vanderbilt. So you're looking at dudes that you can really get after.
So I'm not worried about this match-up for the Raptors. I think they should be able to take it as long as they take this game seriously. Again, Anthony Davis can only guard one of Scottie Barnes and Pascal Siakam. So, one of those two should be dominating in the middle of the paint all night. We've seen Scottie Barnes put up basically one of his best games of his career against the Lakers last season, when he dropped 31 and 17--
IMMAN ADAN: On my birthday.
ASAD ALVI: --something along those lines. Around the same time, right? So, this is a game that Scottie Barnes can dominate.
What I would like to see out of this is if you're Scottie Barnes, how can you bring that energy that you bring in the fourth quarter where you are attacking the paint when you get the ball, when you are actually looking to go downhill and do that in the first half instead of going side to side, instead of trying to run point from 30 feet out, which, again, like, one of the criticisms that people will make basically as an excuse for Scottie is, oh, like we tried to run the ball through Fred or Pascal. But when he's out there with the bench unit at the beginning of the second quarter, he's usually either flanked with OG or Pascal.
Scottie's bringing the ball up. Scottie's at 30 feet. It's his job to get the ball under the break line. It's his job--
IMMAN ADAN: I don't undersatnd why he was flanked with Pascal. It makes sense to have OG out there just for spacing reasons. Him and Pascal out there just made no sense to me yesterday.
ASAD ALVI: I think it's-- I still think that's fine. I think it's one of those things where it's like, you want to have a veteran player there to kind of sort through possessions that break up. And maybe OG isn't, like, a second ball handler that you can have out there. So you have a second ball handler in Pascal to give you some room, especially with the Clippers switching scheme.
But Scottie Barnes needs to be able to get to the paint a little bit better earlier than the fourth quarter with his dribble. He needs to be attacking the basket with his dribble rather than looking left, right to try and make passes to either of the wings. Like, I can understand him trying to get other people going.
And it's-- but him trying to get other people going also means that he has to be aggressive-- not for him to even score but, like, him driving into the paint and drawing two defenders up so he can hit a dump off to Jakob Poeltl or he can then kick out to a 3. It's one of the reasons why the Raptors halfcourt offense in the first half is heavily reliant on Fred VanVleet because he's almost the only ball Handler who seems to be able to find a way to get into the paint and get some drive and get going because Pascal Siakam is seeing double teams before he even crosses the break line, which usually leads to a pass out. And again, the only other ball handler they've had right now that is able to do anything has been Scottie Barnes, and he's been very timid in the first half.
So I would like to see an aggressive Scottie Barnes on this Lakers game because that is going to set-- the entire Raptors season is going to come down to where Scottie Barnes lies on any given game. If he plays to his talents and his incredible talents, then you're going to have a team that is looks incredible and unbeatable. When he plays kind of loose, aloof, and makes defensive mistakes, offensive mistakes, isn't playing as tight as he should be, that's where the Raptors suddenly kind of lose their gears, and the other teams tend to go on runs.
It's been two games in a row where the end of the second quarter, Scottie has made a couple of key mistakes, and the other team has gone on a run to close that second half. So, just a little bit more tight-- like, obviously, he's 21 years old. He's young.
You don't want to harp on it too much. But again, that's really it, right? It's like, hey, can you just be a little bit stronger and be a little bit further up the development curve?
Which is fine. Like, these are all development reps. So you don't really get too mad about the mistakes made.
But you're hoping that, hey, you made a mistake this last game. Play better the next game. Play better the next game. And you're hoping that that can kind of compound and become something to push through because again--
IMMAN ADAN: That's the thing I'm betting on Scottie being able to do. We constantly see it, and he shows it with this fourth quarter dominance, right? Like, the ability to put whatever happened in the first three quarters aside and come out in the fourth just shows a level of resiliency. And I agree. Scottie, if you come out hard in the first quarter the same way that you do in the fourth quarter, it completely changes the trajectory of what this team looks like moving forward and what this Rapters team can really be.