- The New Orleans Pelicans and Toronto Raptors tip off the NBA season on Tuesday (Oct. 22, 8 PM ET)
- The Pelicans are +240 underdogs against the defending champs
- #1 pick Zion Williamson underwent knee surgery Monday and will miss 6-8 weeks
The NBA schedule makers didn’t do the New Orleans Pelicans any favors. New Orleans travels to Toronto as heavy underdogs on Opening Night (Tuesday, Oct. 22, 8 PM ET), and will have to sit and watch the Raptors receive their rings and raise the franchise’s first championship banner.
Pelicans vs Raptors Odds
|New Orleans Pelicans||+240||+7.0 (-110)||Over 231.0 (-110)|
|Toronto Raptors||-290||-7.0 (-110)||Under 231.0 (-110)|
All odds taken 10/21/19.
Our Pelicans vs Raptors odds show New Orleans opened as 5-point underdogs and are currently getting 7 points. They’re +240 on the moneyline and found out Monday they’ll be without number one pick Zion Williamson for the foreseeable future.
Pelicans rookie star Zion Williamson underwent arthroscopic surgery for torn meniscus in right knee and will be out 6-to-8 weeks.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) October 21, 2019
The New Look Pelicans
Zion’s injury aside, this year’s Pelicans team will look nothing like the 2018-19 version. Anthony Davis left for Hollywood, Julius Randle is in NYC and Jrue Holiday is the only returning starter from a season ago.
The addition of Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram gives them more athleticism, and JJ Redick’s outside shooting will drastically improve their 24th ranked 3-point field goal percentage.
Alvin Gentry says he’ll probably stick with JJ Redick in the starting lineup for the opener vs Toronto
— Will Guillory (@WillGuillory) October 20, 2019
New Orleans will lean heavily on Holiday and for good reason. They were 14 points per 100 possessions better with him on the court than off the court last season, making him one of the most valuable players at the guard position. He was one of only five players to average at least 20 points and 7 assists per game and is a former all-defensive first team selection.
My nomination of Jrue Holiday for Defensive Player of the Year.
We’ll start with Jrue’s pressured defense against some of the NBA’s best. First, three clips of Jrue v Paul George. pic.twitter.com/EjRPOIaJIG
— Preston Ellis (@PrestonEllis) October 21, 2019
Those defensive skills will be in demand Tuesday, as the Pelicans will need him to slow down Kyle Lowry, who will be counted on for more offense now that Kawhi Leonard is gone.
The Champs are Here
As much as Leonard’s absence hurts, the Raptors are still expected to be very competitive this season. Yes, Danny Green is also gone, but the rest of the key pieces of last season’s championship team are in tact and big things are expected from Pascal Siakam.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) October 19, 2019
He averaged 19.8 points, 7.5 rebounds and 3.7 assists in the NBA Finals and carried the offense in some of the series most important moments. He’s a big reason why Toronto was able to go 17-5 without Leonard last season, and along with Marc Gasol and OG Anunoby he forms one of the best defensive front courts in the East.
The trio will make life miserable for the Pelicans up front, forcing New Orleans to beat them from the outside. As mentioned, Redick will certainly improve the Pelicans efficiency from 3, but Toronto is one of the league’s best teams at defending the outside shot.
They ranked top ten last season in opponent’s 3-point field goal percentage and held some of the NBA’s premier shooting teams to below 33% from 3 during their championship run.
Roll With the Raptors
This is an impossible spot for the Pelicans and no one should be surprised if they get blown out on Opening Night. It’s tough enough playing in Toronto on a random night in the middle of the regular season, but the atmosphere on Tuesday is going to be out of control.
The banner will be raised, the rings will be presented and the Raptors will lock down the New Orleans offense.
Let's have fun and keep it civil.