New Orleans Pelicans v Toronto Raptors

The New Orleans Pelicans (26-45) host the Toronto Raptors (48-23) tonight at the Smoothie King Center at 6 pm CT (UTC -5). The game will be on Fox Sports New Orleans and the Pelicans Radio Network, 99.5 FM locally.

The Pelicans starters will be players under contract, but I’m not sure the details matter at this point. The Raptors are a very good team who rely on Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan primarily, with various forms of help at the wings and inside, including Jonas Valanciunas. The Raptors lost their two most recent games, including one last night to the Rockets, and they may be a little nicked up. This is about the end of the good news for Pelicans fans.

The Raptors play at a slow pace, so unless the Pelicans keep the energy up, make quick, effective decisions, and actually make some baskets, they play right in to Toronto’s hands. If Holiday plays, maybe they can not be overrun by the Raptor guards and give the New Orleans big men and forwards a chance to apply pressure. No matter who frenetic the Pelicans try to make their offense, the Raptors can be as decisive as they choose while they have the ball, and with a lead, this can be fatal for the Pelicans. The Raptors rely in part on free throws from Lowry and DeRozan, who are good at both getting to the line and hitting from there. The Pelicans are also good at sending players to the line, so this is not a good combination. The Pelicans’ best chance is to try to jump out to a lead and hope the Raptors fall apart . . . slim chance.

While you are watching the game, take a hard look at the Raptors. They don’t have a superstar, but they have some very good players. They’ve built a team around skilled players that have an aggressive game that is not out of control. They have some reclamation projects and have taken some chances, and it’s worked out. Ujiri has put together quite a team that is underrated. You can choose to watch the team and mourn at how the Pelicans have been put together, or you can ask yourself if getting the right starter on the team can get them pointed in the right direction.

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