New Orleans Pelicans at Toronto Raptors Preview
The New Orleans Pelicans got a ton of prime National TV games with the excitement around rookie forward Zion Willianson, but the Duke alum will be out at least the next six to eight weeks recovering from knee surgery.
But plenty of fresh faces will be making their debuts for the Pels as they travel north of the border for a game with the defending champion Toronto Raptors, who themselves look like a much different team than the one that was boosting the Larry O’Brien back in June.
Time: 8:00 PM ET
Arena: Scotiabank Arena, Toronto, ON
Pelicans: Zion Williamson (O), Darius Miller (O).
Raptors: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (O), Patrick McCaw (O).
New Orleans Pelicans Starting Lineup
Tonight begins a new era for the New Orleans Pelicans. After trading away former franchise cornerstone Anthony Davis to the Los Angeles Lakers for a package that included Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart and several first round picks, holdover Jrue Holiday captains an almost completely new roster.
After a tumultuous 2018-19 season, there’s a lot of excitement in the Crescent City around these Pelicans and especially rookie forward Zion Williamson. But the NOLA faithful will have to be patient as Williamson will not be making his rookie debut any time soon.
”He’s a smart enough player that whenever he comes back he will be fine,” Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said. “He’s a solid, solid guy and very mature for a 19-year-old.”
Aside from the trade and the draft, the Pelicans also showed up their roster with some nice veteran free agent pickups in J.J. Redick and Derrick Favors. The addition of those veterans, along with Holiday, should help a very young team find their grounding and transition easier.
Raptors Starting Lineup
The Toronto Raptors begin their title defense tonight at home in Toronto, but they’ll have to do it without a key player from their championship run in Kawhi Leonard. Also gone is Danny Green, who has joined LeBron James in Los Angeles.
Leonard’s sidekick in Toronto, Pascal Siakam, now becomes their top player fresh off a maxcontract extension keeping him in Canada for the considerable future.
”I think people are done overlooking him,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said of Siakam. “Rightly so, he’ll be a focal point for teams to scheme against.”
Kyle Lowry and Marc Gasol also return and Nurse and the Raptors are hoping young, athletic swingman OG Anunoby can take another step, if not leap forward as he replaces Leonard in the lineup.
The Raptors are not quite the deep team they were a year ago, but look for Norman Powell and Serge Ibaka to have big roles with the second unit.
Key Player Matchups
Pascal Siakam vs. Brandon Ingram
Both athletic, lanky forwards, Siakam and Ingram should be the key matchup for tonight’s game. Both players are capable of playing inside and outside and both are highlight-reel worthy. Siakam has a slight advantage down in the paint and is the better defender overall.
Kyle Lowry vs. Lonzo Ball
The battle at point guard should be an interesting one for sure, pitting a perennial all-star contender in Lowry against Ball, who has a chip on his shoulder and feels he has something to prove after being jettisoned from his home city of Los Angeles in the Davis trade.
Fred VanVleet vs. Jrue Holiday
VanVleet is capable of getting hot in a hurry, and he will have plenty of opportunities in this new role, but he will also be defended by one of the stronger, more physical guards in the league who can also put up big numbers in Holiday.
Not a lot of players stand out as a head and shoulders stud for the Pelicans, but a safe bet is Holiday, who is available for $7.9k on DraftKings. J.J. Redick would be my value play at $4.9k. Redick will provide scoring and if you need some help from beyond the arch, he’s your man.
For Toronto, go with Siakam. The value he brings in offensive and defensive categories makes him well worth $7.6k. For another value, look to Norman Powell at $4k. While he comes off the bench, he figures to be a big part of the Raptors offense and will get plenty of minutes at shooting guard and small forward.
Bet on Matchup
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