The Pelicans will meet a very familiar opponent Sunday evening — New Orleans beat Toronto 113-99 just a few days before Christmas in Tampa Bay — but the Raptors sit in quite the unfamiliar looking position, tied for the second-worst record in the league at 1-3.
Only the Washington Wizards (1-5) have gotten off to a more disappointing start here in 2020-21.
However, let’s not mistaken the early standings to mean that the Pelicans will have an easy time today in the Smoothie King Center. While there’s a noticeable difference in W/L records, the offensive, defensive and net ratings are all very similar.
|Offensive Rating||Defensive Rating||Net Rating|
|Pelicans||102.6 (24)||101.0 (4)||1.6 (13)|
|Raptors||98.1 (30)||100.0 (2)||-1.9 (18)|
With just a handful of games under our belts though, don’t put too much stock into these trends. The sample size is too small. The biggest takeaway for both teams in reality should be that they can usually be counted on to give a strong effort defensively as they both seek to discover greater offensive rhythm.
The Pelicans have the 6th-worst true shooting percentage to date, the Raptors, 4th-worst, but as for where most of New Orleans’ struggles have come from behind the three-point line (31.3 3PT% — 29th), Toronto has displayed difficulties putting the ball through the hoop inside the arc (48.9 2FG% — 27th).
It must be pointed out that the Raptors have shot more threes than twos thus far on the season though, attempting a league-high 46.0 three-pointers but a league-low 43.5 two-pointers. Thus, if Toronto gets hot from the outside — against a New Orleans defense that’s allowing the most attempts from deep per game (42.8), the Pelicans will probably be in trouble.
As JJ Redick (28.6 3PT%), Lonzo Ball (28.6 3PT%) and Nicolo Melli (22.2 3PT%) try to steady the ship from the perimeter, Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet and Norman Powell will all be hoping to raise their field goal percentages above 40%.
Watching how the Pelicans get out to the Toronto shooters will be key, but I’m going to be focused on Brandon Ingram. BI was ejected from Thursday’s matchup against the OKC Thunder after he came in contact with the side of Isaiah Roby’s head on a block attempt. Ingram was on his way to a great game (20 points in 26 minutes) so will the Raptors catch a little extra fury today after the controversial decision to throw him out for making a basketball play?
Sounds good to me, let’s geaux Pels!
When: January 2, 6:30 p.m. Central
Where to watch: FSNO, NBA tv
Where to listen: ESPN 100.3 FM