The Raptors will be without Kawhi Leonard who is now in Los Angeles. The Pelicans drafted Zion Williamson with the first overall pick in the draft but he will miss 6-8 weeks with a knee injury. The Pelicans also traded Anthony Davis to team up with LeBron James and they received a massive overhaul.
This game will showcase a lot for these two teams. They are both missing their best player from last season so it will be interesting to see how they adjust.
Pelicans vs. Raptors Preview
Leonard was not the only departure for the Raptors. Danny Green is also missing from last season’s title team. They signed Pascal Siakam to a massive contract extension so he will be one of the main focal points of their offense along with Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet.
The Raptors will take a step back from last season. They finished the Eastern Conference as the No. 2 seed last season but that will be difficult to do with the Milwaukee Bucks and Philadelphia 76ers viewed as powerhouses. Toronto averaged 114.4 points per game last season. That number might be hard to sustain without Leonard on the team.
New Orleans finally settled the Davis drama that they dealt with last season. They sent him to the Los Angeles Lakers for Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, and Brandon Ingram along with three first-round picks. This was a positive trade for the Pelicans in the long run. They have built a young core that can be in New Orleans for a long time.
The addition of JJ Redick was obviously overseen with some of the biggest names in the NBA looking for a new home this past offseason. He signed with the Pelicans and this will help their perimeter shooting immensely. The Pelicans are an intriguing team. They have star power and their players have a chip on their shoulder.
Pelicans vs. Raptors Pick & Prediction
Heading into the season, everyone knows who the top teams are going to be. For teams like Toronto and New Orleans, it will take a couple weeks to see who they really are.
In game one after winning a championship, the Raptors should come out with some energy. There will be electricity in the air as the Raptors raise their banner and celebrate bringing a title to Toronto. Many of the Pelicans have played together in Los Angeles, but it will take time to adjust to their new team. Playing this game without Williamson will be a factor considering he was supposed to be such a big part of their offense.
This game will be won on the defensive end. New Orleans was weak defensively last season. The Raptors have tough minded players, especially down low. The home team should win the game but the question will be by how much?
PICK: Raptors -7
SCORE PREDICTION: Raptors 112, Pelicans 101