New Orleans Pelicans (0-0) at Toronto Raptors (0-0)
NBA: Tuesday, October 22nd, 2019 at 8:00 pm ET (Scotiabank Arena)
Line and Odds: Toronto Raptors -7 Over/Under: 232
Free ESPN NBA Picks Toronto Raptors vs. New Orleans Pelicans
The New Orleans Pelicans will have a much different look this season. The face of the franchise for the last 7 years, Anthony Davis, was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers in the offseason. Davis spent his entire career in New Orleans, but his last season caused a great deal of tumult for the Pelicans’ franchise. New Orleans’ 2018-2019 season was consumed by trade demands and trade rumors.
New Orleans had a record of 33-49, last season. Even with all of the turmoil surrounding the team, they still had a solid offense. They averaged 111.4 points per 100 possessions, ranking 13th in offensive rating. They had an effective field goal percentage of 52.9% which ranked 11th in the league. New Orleans was spurred on by their ability to make shots from close range, ranking 8th in 2-point percentage. Like all Alvin Gentry-coached teams, it was a team that liked to run up and down the court. New Orleans ranked 3rd in pace, averaging 103.3 possessions per game. Defensively, the Pelicans ranked in the bottom-third of the NBA. New Orleans ranked 23rd in defensive rating last season, allowing 112.6 points per 100 possessions. They ranked 21st in defensive effective field goal percentage and 22nd in defensive turnover percentage.
The offseason saw changes in the makeup of the team, as well as the composition of the front office. David Griffin was hired as the Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations. Trajan Langdon was then hired by the Pelicans as their General Manager. Together, Griffin and Langdon overhauled the roster. They traded Anthony Davis away to the Lakers and let Julius Randle go in free agency. New Orleans acquired Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, and Brandon Ingram in the Davis trade. They won the draft lottery and drafted the much-hyped Zion Williamson out of Duke with the #1 pick. Unfortunately, Zion will miss the first 6-8 weeks of the season with a meniscus injury. New Orleans also got Jaxson Hayes and Nickeil Alexander-Walker through the draft. The Pelicans signed J.J. Redick to add shooting and Derrick Favors to add rebounding. Until Zion makes an appearance in a regular season game, we won’t get a sense of what these Pelicans will be. However, it’ll be interesting to get a peak at the new look Pelicans.
The Toronto Raptors will celebrate last season’s championship success, and then turn the page to a brand new season. Toronto’s front office, team, and fans did everything they could to convince Kawhi Leonard to stay, but he eventually took his talents to Los Angeles. In 2019, Kawhi Leonard led to the Raptors on one of the most magical playoff runs we’ve seen in recent memory.
Toronto finished last season with a 58-24 record and earned the #2 seed in the Eastern Conference Playoffs. After dropping game 1 of the opening series with the Orlando Magic, Toronto won 4 straight to advance to the next round. They beat the Philadelphia 76ers in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, with a memorable Kawhi Leonard game 7 jumper that went through the basket after bouncing on the rim multiple times. In the Eastern Conference Finals, Toronto beat the Milwaukee Bucks 4-2 after dropping the first two games of the series. They won the NBA Finals 4-2 against the Golden State Warriors to bring Toronto (and Canada) its first NBA championship.
Similar to the New Orleans Pelicans, the Raptors have changed a fair amount from the season before. The loss of Kawhi Leonard is huge because he is one of the 5 best players in the NBA. It is obviously going to be tough to replace his production. The Raptors also lost Danny Green to free agency. Green is the classic 3-and-D guy, guarding the wing and hitting 3-pointers. Having said that, many of the Raptors from last year’s championship team do return. Veterans Kyle Lowry, Serge Ibaka, and Marc Gasol return as the team’s leaders. Each of these players has 10+ years of NBA experience. No one else on the roster has more than 4 years of NBA experience. The Raptors’ promising young core of Pascal Siakam, OG Anunoby, and Fred VanVleet also return in hopes of being key contributors to a potential back-to-back run.
Cover The Spread 365 Betting Trends
New Orleans is 4-12 ATS in their last 16 games.
New Orleans is 3-13 SU in their last 16 games.
New Orleans is 5-13-1 ATS in their last 19 games against Toronto.
Toronto is 8-2 ATS in their last 10 games.
The total has gone OVER in 6 of Toronto’s last 7 games against New Orleans.
Toronto is 12-4 SU in their last 16 games at home.
ESPN NBA Scores New Orleans Pelicans vs. Toronto Raptors
I’m taking the Pelicans +7 in this matchup. Losing Anthony Davis is obviously a big deal for New Orleans, but I really like what they’ve done with the roster. They got as strong of a return as any team who has been forced to trade an All-Star. Jrue Holiday returns to New Orleans as a superb defender and a 20 point per game scorer. The returning players, draft picks, trade acquisitions, and free agent signings compose a roster that I expect will give many teams in he Western Conference trouble. Toronto is coming off of an NBA Championship, but Kawhi Leonard leaves a massive hole on their depth chart. Unlike the Pelicans, the Raptors were unable to get anything for the loss of their star. Tonight’s banner-raising will be a celebratory occasion, but it will also be a wistful ceremony. The Raptors are a strong team, but Kawhi Leonard will not be coming back. I think the Raptors are overvalued here, so I’ll take the Pelicans and the points.