After Tuesday’s impressive outing in Houston, the Toronto Raptors (8-5) look to continue their success against the New Orleans Pelicans, only this time in the Big Easy rather than the friendly confines of the Air Canada Centre. Last time these two teams played, the Raptors tamed the Pelicans frontcourt of Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins, limiting the duo to 38 points and 22 rebounds combined (well below their combined season averages). When Boogie and the Brow come to town, they’re going to produce no matter what defensive schemes are thrown at them. The key is to make the them uncomfortable, although sometimes that doesn’t even matter. Serge Ibaka and Jonas Valanciunas are in for a tall task once again. We’ll see how the Raps fare in round two, especially on the second night of a back-to-back.
C.J. Miles had one of his best games as a Raptor in Houston, scorching the Rockets for 19 points. Miles matched his season-high with six three-pointers, showing the long-range prowess that made the Raptors so interested in acquiring him during the offseason. If he’s able to continue with his hot-hand off the bench, it’ll help the Raptors stretch the floor, and create space down low, both of which are key components to the team’s newfound offensive approach.
With Cousins and Davis having subpar games – for their standards – the last time they faced the Raptors, Jrue Holiday carried the offensive burden, finishing with 34 points and dishing 11 assists in his strongest performance of the young season. Head coach Dwane Casey eventually tasked OG Anunoby with guarding Holiday in the fourth quarter, which worked better than he even could have anticipated. Holiday scored just two points in the final frame, which proved to be a big reason why the Raptors secured a win down the stretch.
The Pelicans are 8-6 and have impressed early on this season despite dealing with multiple injuries. Among their many injuries, Rajon Rondo was out for over a month due to a sports hernia, while Alex Ajinca continues to recover from his October knee surgery. The team sits in the middle of the pack in both offensive (15th) and defensive rating (14th), and attempt the 12th most three-pointers league-wide at 30 per game. Even though the Pelicans only knock down 34 percent of their takes from distance, their shooters still need to be respected beyond the arc; if open on the perimeter, you bet they’ll make you pay. That’s problematic considering the towering threat that looms inside the paint for 48 minutes.
The game tips off at 8:00 PM ET on Sportsnet One and Sportsnet 590.
Norman Powell status is undetermined as of this morning. The 24-year-old continues to recover from a hip pointer he sustained while facing the Celtics this past Sunday.
Expect OG Anunoby to start once again, especially after a strong performance in Houston. He had a great offensive showing with 16 points, but more importantly, the 20-year-old proved once again he’s able to defend elite NBA players. As the one and only Blake Murphy pointed out, Anunoby’s already guarded the likes of Anthony Davis, Al Horford, Jrue Holiday, and now James Harden.
Not bad for the Raptors 23rd overall first round pick.
Anunoby’s showing glimpses of what the Raptors future at small forward may look like. Remember, this was a player that, before tearing his ACL, was projected to be picked in the top-10 of the loaded 2017 draft. Anunoby’s so enjoyable to watch already; there’s no other rookie that plays with the same level of confidence, not to mention fearlessness.
PG: Kyle Lowry, Delon Wright, Fred VanVleet
SG: DeMar DeRozan
SF: OG Anunoby, C.J. Miles, Alfonzo McKinnie
PF: Serge Ibaka, Pascal Siakam
C: Jonas Valanciunas, Jakob Poeltl, Lucas Nogueira
OUT: Norman Powell
905: Malcolm Miller, Lorenzo Brown, Bruno Caboclo
Rajon Rondo’s return to the lineup signals Jameer Nelson’s days of playing meaningful minutes may be over. Solomon Hill is still out with a torn hamstring, while Alex Ajinca remains out until December. Omer Asik won’t play against Toronto once again, as he’s still getting treated for Crohn’s disease.
In what should come as a sigh of relief for the Raptors backcourt, defensive specialist Tony Allen’s status for Wednesday’s tilt is listed as questionable. He missed the Pelicans last game against the Atlanta Hawks on Monday with a sore knee.
PG: Jrue Holiday, Rajon Rondo, Jameer Nelson
SG: E’Twaun Moore, Ian Clark
SF: Dante Cunningham, Tony Allen
PF: Anthony Davis, Darius Miller
C: DeMarcus Cousins, Cheick Diallo
OUT: Frank Jackson, Solomon Hill, Alexis Ajinca, Omer Asik
G-League (no affiliate): Charles Cooke, Jalen Jones
The Raptors are 3.5-point underdogs with a 218 over-under.
Because the Raptors are on the second night of a back-to-back, this line shouldn’t come as much of a surprise.