Raptors Report! Toronto to Top the Pelicans Despite Twin Towers
Raptors will Cover despite Cousins and Davis
There is no more feared big-man tandem in the NBA than the Pelicans' Demarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis right now. The two are combining to average 57.3 points, 26.4 rebounds, 2.9 steals, 4 blocks, and 3.7 threes a game. They account for 53.9 per cent of their team's total points per game, the highest in the league. But beyond these two and point guard Jrue Holiday, the Pelicans have little else to offer.
The Pelicans (+4.5) are 6-5 in the season and are 5-2 on the road. Statistically speaking, they don't stand out anywhere ranking in top-20 in almost every stat. Despite the efforts of Cousins and Davis, the Pelicans are winless against winning teams (0-4) and their road record is deceiving as all five wins came against opponents with a combined record of 16-36 (30.7 win percentage). In short, the Pelicans beat the poor teams and lose to the good teams. The Raptors are part of the latter.
Toronto (-4.5) has been shaky as of late going 0-2 against the spread since returning to the Air Canada Centre. The Raptors blew the cover against the Bulls in the fourth period. Thankfully, the Pelicans are good enough to keep up with the Raptors for most of the game that garbage time won't likely happen. Toronto has advantages in offensive rating (107.9 vs 103), effective field goal percentage (53.1 vs 51.6), and turnover percentage (14.6 vs 15.9).
The Pelicans hold a slight edge on defense with a defensive rating of 102.4 versus Toronto's 102.7 and opponent's effective field goal percentage at 50.8 against Toronto's 51.4. But Toronto has the edge in forcing turnovers with 16.6 opponent turnover percentage versus the Pelican's 15.9. The Pelicans may be better at limiting scoring opportunities but the Raptors will win the turnover battle.
Bet on the Raptors to cover the 4.5 spread. The Pelicans' losses against the Grizzlies and Blazers on the road were by double digits. The game will be close as both Cousins and Davis will have a field day and may just combine to score over 50 points but Toronto holds the edge everywhere else. The over on totals (214.5) is a solid bet as both teams are good at scoring and have paces over 100.
Raptors Blow Cover against Chicago during Fourth
Toronto beat Chicago last Monday night like everyone and their grandmommas predicted but they let a 33-21 Chicago run in the fourth kill their spread. To the Raptors' credit, the game was already over by halftime as they led the Bulls by 20 points but Toronto's backups were outplayed by the Bulls's. Bobby Portis returned for the Bulls after a suspension and dropped 21 points and 13 rebounds with a game-best +10.
The Raptors did not have a single bench player score in double digits as C.J. Miles led the reserves with nine points. It wasn't entirely just the backups' fault as coach Dwane Casey mixed starters with bench players. No single Raptor had a +/- over +9 (Jonas Valanciunas) as both starters and bench players were present when the Bulls were rallying in the second-half.
Covering double-digit spreads, even against woeful teams like Chicago, can be a tall task. While the Raptors soundly did this their first time around, they eased up and cruised to a win. This should be another wake-up call as they prepare for a much more talented Pelicans team tonight.
Raptors 2017-18 Season Outlook
The Raptors are 3-1 in conference play with their only loss coming against Washington last Sunday. They play New Orleans then head back on the road.
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