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NBA Preview: Pelicans look to finish off four-game road trip in perfect fashion against Raptors

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Will New Orleans escape Toronto with the underdog win?

NBA: New Orleans Pelicans at Indiana Pacers Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

The New Orleans Pelicans (6-5) will attempt to keep the good times rolling on the road when they face the Toronto Raptors (6-4) on Thursday evening. The game will feature another early starting time (6:30 pm central), but you best believe Joel Meyers, Sean Kelley and the rest of their wonderful accomplices will be ready to provide the details of all the action on Fox Sports New Orleans and WRNO 99.5 FM.

For the first time since 2011, the Pelicans have won four straight road games on the schedule, and they hope to notch they’re sixth road win of this young season — something they failed to accomplish back in 2016-17 until the middle of January!

The Pelicans haven’t beaten Toronto in their last four matchups, but that may mean very little as this past Tuesday, New Orleans ended a seven-game losing skid in Indiana. Streaks are meant to be broken!

The Raptors sit once again in their familiar place near the top of the Eastern Conference, and they’ve dropped just one game at home thus far. This will be the first time they’re hosting a team from the West, though, and it’s interesting to note they’ve posted a 3-3 record against our conference.

Three Keys to Victory

Respect the three-point line. The Raptors used to live in the midrange area, but in smartly changing with the times, they’ve added a lot more three-point shots to their arsenal. While they rank next to last in converting attempts, Toronto has posted a 5-1 record in the games they’ve finished with a higher three-point percentage than opponents. If the Pelicans are having difficulty finding the mark from the outside, they need to make sure the Raptors are having similar issues and see lots of hands in their faces.

Attack Jonas Valanciunas. Toronto’s starting center will likely be less than 100% as he continues to round into form following an ankle injury. Against the Jazz and Wizards, he committed a combined 11 fouls in just 40 minutes. Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins should consider punishing him in the lane early and often, and then obviously try to continue with that same focus against all Raptor small ball lineups the duo encounter later.

Attempt to match the production/energy of Raptors bench. According to the stats, Toronto boasts a top-3 bench. In case you’ve been sleeping under a rock, the Pelicans have struggled to get key production from their reserves for much of 2017-18. In recent games, Darius Miller, Tony Allen and Jameer Nelson have picked it up nicely, but odds are they’ll either need to raise their games several more notches or get some additional help from players like Ian Clark or Dante Cunningham.

Geaux Pelicans!

What: New Orleans Pelicans at Toronto Raptors

Where: Air Canada Centre

When: November 9, 2017, 6:30 PM Central

How: FSNO, WRNO 99.5 FM