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Game Thread: Slowing Pascal Siakam and corralling Raptors in transition likely two biggest keys for Pelicans

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The first game on the schedule is here!

Toronto Raptors v New Orleans Pelicans Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images

The New Orleans Pelicans are tipping off in close to an hour against the Toronto-Tampa Bay Raptors and vibes are flying high across the region!

In hopes of New Orleans securing a victory, I will be watching closely for two things in the first game of the 2020-21 season: the play of Pascal Siakam and the Pelicans’ defense in transition.

Siakam torched New Orleans in both matchups last season, going for 34 points and 18 rebounds in the season opener and 44 points, 10 rebounds and five threes on November 8, 2019. Can Brandon Ingram and/or Zion Williamson slow him down enough?

Just as damaging as the play of Siakam, the Raptors scored 58 fast break points in two games against the Pelicans. 58!!! New Orleans must keep Toronto from scoring that many easy points. One thing that should help: Stan Van Gundy on the sidelines.

Having prioritized defense throughout training camp and seeing some positive trends in preseason action, the Pelicans should be in better position to make life harder for the Raptors’ offense. In addition to getting back in a timely fashion, New Orleans needs to keep turnovers to a minimum. The Pelicans combined for 37 turnovers last season, but in the two exhibition contests, New Orleans committed a much more palatable 25. Stay close to an average of 12.5 errors and the Pelicans chances of leaving Tampa Bay with a victory in hand will be higher.

For more on tonight’s game, please give our preview a read.

Let’s geaux Pels!

Who: New Orleans Pelicans at Toronto Raptors (Tampa Bay)

When: December 22, 6:30 p.m. Central

Where to watch: FSNO

Where to listen: ESPN 100.3 FM

For more Pelicans talk, subscribe to The Bird Calls podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow this author on Twitter at @OlehKosel.