HOME TEAM: New Orleans Pelicans (2-2, 1-0 at home)
The Pelicans have alternated wins in losses through their first four games. They’ll be coming off an emphatic victory, though, as they routed the Oklahoma Thunder on Friday, 113-80. It’s a good building block for the team’s four-game home stand.
Adding into the Pels’ appeal for the game is their 113-99 win over the Raptors last Christmas Eve. It was a back-and-forth affair until New Orleans raced into a hot third quarter, where they outscored the Raps, 38-22, and proceeded to take full control until the buzzer. Brandon flirted with a triple-double by posting 24 points, nine rebounds, and 11 assists, while Zion Williamson was pretty decent with 15 points and 10 boards in 30 minutes of play. Finally, the bench mob were led by veteran sharpshooter, JJ Redick, who had 23 points and six three-pointers – he’s been quiet since, so let’s see if he comes alive again tomorrow.
All that are just the first portion of the Pelicans’ attack. There’s Lonzo Ball, Eric Bledose, Steven Adams, and Josh Hart as well, who collectively provide playmaking, hustle plays, and very serviceable scoring.
The Pelicans are averaging 101.6 PPG this season.
AWAY TEAM: Toronto Raptors (1-3, 0-2 on the road)
The Raptors are not off to a pleasing start. They just tallied their first win of the season on Friday, and it was only over the lowly New York Knicks. Now they’re back on the road, where they lost two in-a-row courtesy of poor showing in the fourth quarter.
All-Star forward Pascal Siakam is expected to be back in the fold after a one-game suspension by the team. It was for disciplinary action as the 26-year-old prematurely walked off the court during the December 30 defeat against the Philadelphia 76ers. Hopefully, the issue is now behind the team. He’s averaging 18.7 points, 9.0 rebounds, and 4.7 assists per game in three outings this season.
Siakam, alongside Kyle Lowry (19.5 PPG, 8.3 APG) and Fred VanVleet (17.0 PPG, 6.3 APG), will look to continue leading the climb up the standings. New rotation forward Chris Boucher, who’s shooting 54.5% from the floor and leading the team in offensive rebounds and blocks, should be right behind the trio.
The Raptors are averaging 101.5 PPG this season.
The Pelicans are looking good under head coach Stan Van Gundy’s guidance, and they should be able to continue to do so since they have momentum and will be playing in their turf. Look for Ingram and Williamson are geared up for another healthy stat line, and for the defense to put the clamps on VanVleet, who was held to nine points on 3-for-12 shooting in their previous encounter.
New Orleans wins, 108-102.