Gameday: Pelicans @ Raptors, Nov. 12

A large child walks down the hallway with no regard for what he walks into. Other children bounce off of him without him noticing, others, he shoves away with little care. A farm-kid who loves animals (deer, usually) pushes the big kid over while he’s tying his shoe. No bother, the child gets up again and keeps making his way down the hallway. Before he knows it, the child has knocked over 12 children with minimal effort.

A small child in a Wizards uniform yells for everyone to hear: “I can push over just as many people!” The big child ignores this and finds a seat in home room. One of the kids who’s classes are usually in the West wing of school, jumps across the classroom. He lands directly in front of the big child’s desk. The child looks up and sees a very lanky kid, with an incredible unibrow. This may require a bit of attention.

The Pelicans visit the Raptors in Scotiabank Arena this November 12th. The Raptors, who seem locked into a 60+ win season get a challenge in the form of Anthony Davis & Co. The Pelicans are looking at the league-best Raptors as a blastoff point for their season. After starting their season 4-0, the Pelicans looked poised to let their whirlwind offense take them to the peak of the Western Conference. They followed that up with a 2-6 stretch that has left them sitting at .500. An undesirable record for a team that possesses one of the league’s premiere talents.

With Davis coming to town, the Raptors stellar big-men get a chance to show their mettle. How does Serge Ibaka, Jonas Valanciunas, and Pascal Siakam stack up against Julius Randle, Nikola Mirotic and Davis? We’ll have to wait and see. I’d expect lower minutes from Valanciunas in this one, but there’s always potential for him to blow the doors off of the Pelicans with his offense, so who’s to say? Siakam figures to be very important in his matchups with Mirotic and Randle, as he possesses the athletic ability to abuse Mirotic on offense and simultaneously keep up with Randle on defense.

I don’t imagine anyone envies the work Ibaka has ahead of him against Davis. I expect his scoring might be more valuable in this game than defense, due to the fact that he needs to draw the attention of Davis on that end. That being said, it doesn’t look bad for Ibaka as he’s been terrific on the short-roll this year. He’s converting over 50-percent of his non-RA (restricted area) paint shots, and 57-percent from mid-range. During the 2017-18 season, Ibaka guarded Davis for 34 possessions, which is actually the 8th most of any player he guarded that year. In those possessions, Ibaka registered a deterrent factor of 80.3.

If Davis gets to roam the paint while Jrue Holiday hounds the Raptors guards, it could be a long night for Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet. Now that Lowry is receiving MVP consideration – even though it will certainly not be given to him, no matter how good he is – Holiday might be the league’s most underrated point guard. He’s far from fallible, though. Lowry is a terrific shooter from downtown, in contrast Holiday has been awful this year.

Even with Holiday’s considerable talent, he’s been mediocre in the pick n’ roll this year. His PPP in that role has been a paltry 0.74. Which puts him in the company of players like D’Angelo Russell, and Dennis Smith Jr. If the Raptors guards can keep Holiday from snaking his way into the paint, they’re likely in a great position.

The Pelicans typically start E’Twaun Moore at small forward (he’s been great, actually), but with Elfrid Payton’s injury it looks like Wesley Johnson will start at small forward, and Holiday and Moore will slide down a position.

We’ve never seen Leonard play against this small-ball iteration of the Pelicans, as he only played 9 games last year. I’d expect a dominant game from Leonard in this one. Also, let’s take a little time to celebrate, as this game will be Leonard’s 10th game of the year, surpassing his total from 2017-18. For some reason I think CJ Miles could hit 2 or 3 triples in this one, but that might be all too optimistic. I’d expect a really fun first-half at the very least. I’d hate to promise a full game, due to the Raptors propensity of stomping on opponents. Davis presents a matchup the Raptors don’t face often, and the Pelicans look to be a competitive game in a very easy stretch of the season.

A little highlight from OG Anunoby after his terrific game against the Knicks. Via Josh Lewenberg:

One of Nurse’s favourite things about OG Anunoby: “He sends me random out of the blue texts.” “This was the middle of the summer, (he texted) ‘Hey coach, how do I get on the floor in the 4th?’ I said ‘you need to defend & make open shots’ & he’s like ‘well, I do that already’.”

Team Numbers

Raptors: 2nd in ORTG – 9th in DRTG. 12th in pace – 17th in REB%. 2nd in TS%. 12-1.

Pelicans: 6th in ORTG – 25th in DRTG. 4th in pace – 5th in REB%. 7th in TS%. 6-6.

Game Info

Gametime: 7:30 EST

TV: Sportsnet One

Radio: Sportsnet 590 The Fan

Raptors Updates

Norman Powell won’t be expected back (shoulder) until 4-6 weeks from now. Miles is still fighting his ongoing battle with “Godaddyitis”, but he’s expected to fight through, as the cure is usually confidence.

PG: Kyle Lowry, Fred VanVleet, Delon Wright, Lorenzo Brown

SG: Danny Green, Delon Wright, Malachi Richardson

SF: Kawhi Leonard, OG Anunoby, CJ Miles

PF: Pascal Siakam, OG Anunoby

C: Serge Ibaka, Jonas Valanciunas, Greg Monroe

Pelicans Updates

Mirotic is day-to-day (ankle) and is questionable for Monday’s game. Payton (ankle) will be a game-time decision against the Raptors.

PG: Jrue Holiday, Frank Jackson, Tim Frazier

SG: E’Twaun Moore, Ian Clark

SF: Wesley Johnson, Darius Miller, Solomon Hill

PF: Nikola Mirotic, Julius Randle

C: Anthony Davis, Jahlil Okafor, Cheick Diallo

The Line

The over/under is 229.5, and the Raptors are 7-point favourites.

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