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Lakers vs. Raptors Preview: Can Los Angeles stop their free fall in the standings?

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The Lakers can’t afford to lose anymore winnable games.

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Los Angeles Lakers v Toronto Raptors Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

On Tuesday, the Los Angeles Lakers and Toronto Raptors will face off for the first time this season, and despite of all of the noise that surrounded them in the days leading up to the NBA trade deadline, Tuesday’s matchup, for the most part, will just be another game for both teams. However, a play-in spot will be top-of-mind for both teams on Tuesday, and for vastly different reasons.

For the Raptors, a win over the Lakers would close the 1.5 gap between them and the No. 10 seed in the East, the Orlando Magic, who currently occupy the finally play-in spot in the conference. For the Lakers, a loss to the Raptors would drop them to the No. 5 spot in the Western Conference, which is dangerously close to the No. 7 seed, the Dallas Mavericks. Granted, there would still be two games between the Lakers and Mavericks even if the Lakers lost on Tuesday, but as we’ve seen over the last few weeks, that cushion can disappear in an instant.

It might be hyperbole to say that Tuesday’s game is a must-win for the Lakers, but just barely, because after their game against the 11th-seeded Raptors, Los Angeles will go onto face the No. 5 seed in the East, the Miami Heat, and the No. 2 seeded Brooklyn Nets. Oh, and did I mention that LeBron James and Anthony Davis aren’t expected to be available for either of those games? So, yeah: Tuesday’s game has some significance, even though it won’t be Kyle Lowry’s first game against his former team — and now I’m sad that the Lakers didn’t trade for Lowry again.

The Lakers and Raptors will tip-off at 4:30 p.m. PT, and the game will be broadcast on Spectrum SportsNet.

Notes and Updates

  • The Raptors will be missing six players due to injuries on Tuesday, including two starters in Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet. In total, they’ll have nine players available.
  • The Lakers will be looking to get the ball moving against the Raptors on Tuesday after finishing their last game with a season-low 16 assists to go along with 18 turnovers.
  • Anthony Davis and LeBron James won’t play on Tuesday, but they’ll be with the team for the duration of their five-game road trip.
  • Andre Drummond (right big toe contusion) and Wesley Matthews (neck strain) are both questionable for the game.

For more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow this author on Twitter at @RadRivas.