The New Orleans Pelicans host the Toronto Raptors tonight from the Smoothie King Center, with tip-off scheduled for 8pm EST. The Raptors come in having gone 8-2 over their last ten games and are looking to get back in the win column after losing last time out. They have a record of 31-24 and sit in the seventh spot in the Eastern Conference standings. They hold a 15-11 record away from Canada and will look to improve on that tonight. As for New Orleans, they are 22-24 and sit in the eleventh spot of the Western Conference standings. They have lost six of their last 10 games including two straight and will look to right the ship at home. They are 12-15 this season at home but have played better basketball of late. These two teams come into this game on opposite sides of the standings but should still be an intriguing matchup due to the players on the court. The two teams met earlier in the year with the Raptors taking the game by a score of 105-101 so New Orleans will be looking to even up the season series. This will be the final meeting between the two teams this regular season.
How Toronto can win: Before their last game, the Raptors had won eight straight games and have been one of the hottest teams in the league. They have been averaging 109.1 points per game and are allowing 106.9 points per game. They did give up 110 last time out in their one-point loss to the Denver Nuggets and will need to play better defensively if they want to take down New Orleans. As a team, they are forcing 16.2 turnovers per game and are allowing opponents to shoot 35.5 percent from the three-point line. Against a team like the Pelicans, stopping easy transition points and cutting off open threes on the perimeter will be critical if they want success.
Led by forward Pascal Siakam, the Raptors have played well lately and have pushed themselves back into the playoff hunt. Siakam has scored 30 points or more in three of his last five games and is having a strong season for Toronto. He is averaging 22.1 points, 8.7 rebounds, and 5.2 assists per game while shooting 50 percent from the field. If he can match these numbers against New Orleans, the Raptors will have a strong chance of winning. He will likely be matched up with Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram and will need to play strong defense against Ingram as well. Siakam is the key factor for Toronto in this game both on the offensive and defensive side of the ball.
How New Orleans can win: This Pelicans roster added some firepower during the trade deadline as they acquired guard CJ McCollum from the Portland Trail Blazers. McCollum scored 36 points in his last game for New Orleans, showcasing what he can do on the court. He and Brandon Ingram make for a nice pair and will give any team fits on a nightly basis. Ingram has averaged 22.7 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 5.3 assists per game this season giving New Orleans a true number one option. If he can pick his spots and get going early, it could be a long night for Toronto. It will take a total team effort if New Orleans wants to defend home court and beat the Raptors tonight. They’ll need to limit turnovers and win the small battles like rebounding if they want to win.
The Pelicans are averaging 105.8 points per game this season and are giving up 109.6 to opposing teams. They’ll need to play better defense in this game if they want to beat the Raptors. Limiting the Raptors second chance points will be huge for the Pelicans and could be a key in this matchup.
The Spread Via FanDuel:
Moneyline: TOR: (-190) | NO: (+162)
Spread: TOR: -4.5 (-110) | NO: +4.5 (-110)
Final Prediction: Toronto Raptors 118 New Orleans Pelicans 110
–Give me the Raptors to take this game on the road today. They are the better team and have played very good basketball of late thrusting them back into playoff contention. The Raptors are a good defensive team while New Orleans isn’t, and I believe that will be the difference in this matchup. Look for Toronto to pick up another win here and stay right in the thick of things in the East.