Featured Video from Scott Reichel
Coming off their first NBA title, the Toronto Raptors are off to an encouraging start with Pascal Siakam leading the way as their primary offensive talent. The Raptors are fresh off edging the Sacramento Kings in a shootout on their home floor.
The New Orleans Pelicans have quickly headed in the opposite direction, dropping six out of their first seven contests that put them in a bit of an early hole. The Pelicans are coming off falling in an offensive battle on the road against the Brooklyn Nets.
Nonetheless, it sets up a matchup between two teams hoping to grab some early-season momentum.
Raptors are playing like defending NBA championsFollowing the departure of Kawhi Leonard in the offseason there was talk of there being a significant dropoff for the Raptors, but that hasn't been the case they have gotten out to a strong start to the year. They have continued to catch steam as the season has rolled on having won four out of their last five games that have put them among the best marks in the Eastern Conference. A major reason for their continued steps forward has been the play of rising star forward Pascal Siakam, who has taken over the primary scoring option with Leonard now out of the mix. Siakam is averaging a new double-double with 25.6 points and 9.1 rebounds while shooting 50 percent from the floor and 38.9 percent from beyond the arc. He has continued to expand his game that has led to him post more than 20 points five times along with reaching double-digit scoring in each contest.
It has been much more than just Siakam's play as the Raptors have also received solid play from All-Star point guard Kyle Lowry, who is averaging 24.0 points and 6.7 assists while shooting 48.1 percent from the floor and 42.9 percent from beyond the arc. Lowry is off to a blazing start as he has scored more than 20 points in each of the last four straight games while registering more than five assists in every game this season. He has shown no slowing down in his play as he's still playing some of his best basketball. The combo of Siakam and Lowry have been the leading factors on the floor offensively that have continued to push the defending champions forward. That will continue to need to be the case on the road against a young and competitive Pelicans team.
Pelicans hoping to finally break throughIt has been a difficult start for the Pelicans in the standings as they have just one win through their first seven games that have dropped them to one of the worst marks in the stacked Western Conference. Granted, the team has been playing without prized rookie big man Zion Williamson, who is still recovering from knee surgery, the team has yet to find any headway in the win column. However, they have been able to see much promising play from their young core group along the way this season. It has seen forward Brandon Ingram lead the way offensively by getting off to a blazing start averaging a team-best 25.9 points, 7.1 rebounds, and 4.3 assists while shooting 55.2 percent from the floor and 48.6 percent from beyond the arc this season.
Ingram is coming off the best offensive showing of his young career as he had 40 points in the tough loss to the Nets on Monday night. He has continued to light it up with his scoring as he has notched 20 or more points all but once through the first seven games, including posting a pair of double-doubles. Ingram has come further into his own on the offensive end, showing much growth in his offensive skill set while proving that he can be the primary scoring option. That was something he struggled to show during his tenure with the Los Angeles Lakers. It has been a bit of a slow offensive start for guard Jrue Holiday as he's averaging just 14.2 points on 37.3 percent shooting from the floor and 33.3 percent from beyond the arc. Holiday has notched double-figure points in four out of his last five games. However, it will be their defense that will be the focal point of the game as they have struggled on that end giving up 124.3 points per contest. If they can't pick it up on that end of the floor, it will yet another long night for them.
The top supporting trends for this game, found on Covers.com, are:
- New Orleans is 1-7 ATS in their last eight contests against an Atlantic division opponent.
- New Orleans is 1-7 ATS in their last eight home games against a team with a losing road record.
- New Orleans is 1-9 ATS in their last 10 home games against a team with a road winning% of less than .400.
- Toronto is 6-1-1 ATS in their last eight contests when their opponent allows 100 points or more in their previous game.
- Toronto is 5-1 ATS in their last six games against a team with a losing straight up record.
- Toronto is 4-1-1 ATS in their last six games against a Western Conference opponent.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
The Pelicans have shown plenty of promise from their young core group, but it's simply too hard to trust them defensively. They have been one of the worst teams in the league on that end of the floor that will be the deciding factor in their downfall against the Raptors. That alone could help Toronto grab a comfortable win on the road against a struggling team.
Prediction: Toronto -2.5
Full-Game Total Pick
Pigging backing off of that, the Pelicans' defensive woes should lead to a strong offensive showing for the Raptors on the road. New Orleans has given up more than 120 points in four out of its last five contests, in which Toronto could easily become the fifth team to hit that mark in the last six contests. All of this should lead to plenty of offense between both sides on Friday night at the Smoothie King Center.
Prediction: Over 234