A matchup of superstars in Toronto will highlight a marquee matchup today between the 6-6 New Orleans Pelicans and 12-1 Toronto Raptors (7:30 p.m. ET Monday on NBATV).
The Pelicans’ Anthony Davis and the Raptors’ Kawhi Leonard are both recent All-NBA First Team members who are off to solid starts again this season.
Toronto’s success this season has been all about the team, though. The Raptors have so many players playing well on both sides of the ball and there are very few weaknesses of note on their roster.
The Pelicans have regressed after a 4-0 start. The team’s lack of depth has shown and its shooting has fallen way off.
The Raptors seem to have the upper hand in this matchup, but it’s still one worth breaking down. We’ll go head first into some vital questions heading into the game before making our preview’s New Orleans Pelicans va Toronto Raptors predictions and betting picks for this NBA matchup today.
Can Pelicans Get Breakout Performance From One of Their Big Wings?
The Pelicans’ biggest weakness on their roster is pretty obvious. They don’t have any players on the wing with a great combination of size, athleticism and skill. This is a problem, given that a high percentage of the league’s top players are big wings who defend well and handle and score the ball a lot.
The Raptors’ Kawhi Leonard is in the top handful of players in the NBA. He is a challenge for anyone to deal with due to his diverse offensive skill set and relentless defense. However, he could be especially tough for New Orleans. Their big wings (Wesley Johnson, Solomon Hill and Darius Miller) are all decent players, but not major difference-makers.
Someone needs to make sure Leonard doesn’t get what he wants on offense. On the other end, the person Leonard is guarding can’t let him off easy by staying passive in the offense.
Can Raptors Get Back to Passing Ball Well?
The Raptors have been great all throughout the beginning portion of this season. However, one area in which they have slipped in the past three games is with their passing.
In the team’s first 10 games, it averaged 26.6 assists and just 12.9 turnovers per game (2.1 assists per turnover). In the last three games, though, Toronto has averaged just 20.7 assists against 16.3 turnovers per game (1.3 assists per turnover).
In guys like Kawhi Leonard, Kyle Lowry and Jonas Valanciunas, the Raptors have the individual scorers to survive using this approach. But the team best maximizes its potential when the ball is whipping around the floor and finding open shooters and cutters. New Orleans has some good individual defenders but it is mediocre on defense as a unit. The Raptors must take advantage of this.
Will Pelicans Have Enough Bench Scoring?
Depth is very important for NBA teams nowadays. With the fast pace of games and team’s caution with cumulative fatigue and overuse injuries, it is imperative that star players don’t play too many minutes. That’s where the importance of bench players comes in.
New Orleans has one fantastic reserve (Julius Randle) and a very underwhelming bench outside of him. In particular, the team hardly has any offensive creation ability from the perimeter. Toronto, meanwhile, has a dynamic bench with several versatile, skilled players, such as Jonas Valanciunas, Fred VanVleet, OG Anunoby, Delon Wright and C.J. Miles.
If the Raptors’ bench advantage wasn’t enough already, starters Elfrid Payton and Nikola Mirotic are both questionable for the game with injuries. The Pelicans will need a Herculean performance from their bench, no matter who ends up filling the reserve roles.
Our Preview’s New Orleans Pelicans vs. Toronto Raptors Betting Picks & Predictions
The Raptors’ potential issue of ball movement slippage is far less significant than New Orleans’ lack of depth and punch from the wing positions. The Pelicans are on a two-game winning streak, but those were two home games against the hapless Bulls and Suns.
Now, New Orleans will hit the road for a game against arguably the best team of the early NBA season. I don’t see this going well for the Pelicans today and that is reflected in the New Orleans Pelicans vs. Toronto Raptors predictions for your wagers with the offshore odds setters for USA residents:
- I like Toronto’s chances at a reasonably easy victory here. The first of this preview’s recommended pick is to put some money on the Raptors -9pts on the spread @ -115 odds with Bookmaker. The other sportsbooks are -9.5pts.
- With the Pelicans’ depth concerns relative to the Raptors, I wouldn’t be surprised if they slowed down the pace a little bit to keep their starters fresh. Toronto will gladly oblige, as it has a variety of dangerous offensive options in the half court. Bet the under 231.5pts @ -110 with Intertops. The other firms are at 231pts for the same odds.