Matchup: Toronto Raptors vs. Los Angeles Lakers
Records: Raptors (8-1), Lakers (4-5)
The last time the Toronto Raptors saw LeBron James was Game 4 of last season's Eastern Conference Semifinals.
A lot has obviously changed since then.
Not only is LeBron now a member of the Los Angeles Lakers, but the Raptors have also undergone a huge makeover themselves by turning DeMar DeRozan and Jakob Poeltl into Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green.
As a result, the Raptors are much better equipped to slow down the player who has sent them home in each of the last three seasons.
It's unlikely to be much of a factor this season - the odds of Los Angeles making the NBA Finals over the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference are slim - but a victory against LeBron would mean more than other early season wins for the Raptors considering he has a 53-12 record against the franchise in his career.
One way the Raptors can leave the STAPLES Center with a win on Sunday? By taking control of the paint.
According to NBA.com, the Lakers are leading the league so far this season with 62.9 paint points per game. The Raptors aren't far behind them in the scoring column, but it's been their defence that has been the most impressive through eight games, as only the Indiana Pacers and Milwaukee Bucks are giving up less paint points on a nightly basis.
Serge Ibaka has been a huge reason for Toronto's success in that regard. To go along with his 1.6 blocks per game, opponents are shooting only 41.7 percent within 6-feet of the basket against the veteran. Those marks make him one of the more effective rim protectors in the league so far this season.
If Ibaka and the Raptors can contain LeBron, Kyle Kuzma and JaVale McGee in particular, they should be in good shape to win the game.
One more thing to watch that may or may not decide the outcome of the game: Kyle Lowry will break a franchise record if he dishes out 10-plus assists against the Lakers. The Raptors might also need Lowry to look for his shot more than he usually does if Kawhi Leonard isn't able to play after he left Friday's game against the Phoenix Suns with a jammed foot.
Last Time They Played
Date: Jan. 28, 2018
Score: Raptors 123, Lakers 111
TOR: Fred VanVleet - 25 points, four assists, two rebounds
LAL: Julius Randle - 17 points, 10 rebounds, five assists
Where To Watch
Time: 8 AM IST
TV: Sony Ten1, Sony Ten1 HD
Location: STAPLES Center, Los Angeles, CA