The NBA on TNT for opening night is tonight! The 2 games for us tonight are the New Orleans Pelicans at the Toronto Raptors and Los Angeles Lakers at the LA Clippers.
Let’s start with the first of the 2 games to analyze and predict.
New Orleans Pelicans at Toronto Raptors
With the Zion Williamson injury news coming out, the spread has extended to -7.0 (-110) in favor of the new-look defending champion Raptors. I think that the number is fairly big considering the projected lineups for both squads. I still believe that the Raptors (-290) get the victory at home tonight but this Pelicans team will surprise some people early on this season.
Some other bets to monitor is the O/U at 231 (-110) and the individual team O/U numbers. The Raptors are sitting at 119.0 (-120 OVER) and the Pelicans at 112.5 (-115 OVER and UNDER). Just my take here, teams struggle with defensive assignments early in the season as they get the rust off. With 2 teams that will have some different lineups compared to last season, expect there to be some blown assignments and lack of help defense.
Pelicans: Zion Williamson is OUT.
Why We’re Watching
We wanted to see the debut of the #1 overall pick but alas, a meniscus tear will keep Zion sidelined for up to 8 weeks. Instead, we get the new-look Pelicans versus the defending champs that no-longer have Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard or sharpshooter Danny Green.
The Pelicans will be lead by All-Star guard Jrue Holiday and a crew of former Lakers players in the likes of Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, and Josh Hart. In fact, add new Pelicans JJ Reddick, Derrick Favors, and rookie Nickeil Alexander-Walker to that list and the team is almost completely revamped. We’ll still see carryover players such as Jahlil Okafor and Jaxson Hayes due to the absence of Zion tonight though. That being said, it might take some time for things to gel for this Pelicans team. With a lack of true size on the inside and sharpshooters on the perimeter, the Pelicans will likely struggle against teams with bigs like Marc Gasol.
Speaking of Gasol, he leads the defending champs into battle tonight alongside ¾ of the starters from last year’s championship team. Kyle Lowry and Pascal Siakam will be counted on to provide most of the scoring with Gasol cleaning up the glass. Of note, Fred VanVleet (or VanYEET for the younger audience) will be seeing 30+ minutes a game and will likely be the Raptors “3 and D” guy this season with Danny Green gone.
The replacement for Kawhi? Enter OG Anunoby. Talk about having big shoes to fill! Anunoby will obviously be nowhere near the talent that Kawhi is but he is a man with starting experience on this Raptors team. Throw in the everso consistent Serge Ibaka and an improving Norm Powell and this Raptors team will have a rotation of 7 guys that played together last season. I like the defending champs to win this one simply because they have the most experience playing as a team.
Best Fantasy Performer: Pascal Siakam
Los Angeles Lakers at LA Clippers
After some line movement, it seems to have finally settled on -3.0 Lakers for this game tonight. The moneyline is -155 Lakers and +135 Clippers at the time of writing and the total is set at 226.0 (-115 UNDER). With both teams hampered by injuries, I think the star power is blinding some people for this matchup. The Lakers have an O/U of 114.0 (-120 OVER) and the Clippers have an O/U of 111.0 (-120 OVER). Monitor the injury report for this one because if ¾ of the Lakers guys listed are out… the Clippers could pull out a victory. It’s unlikely because the Lakers have LeBron James and Anthony Davis, but this Clippers team should be able to compete tonight.
Why We’re Watching
This game is the battle for LA in the Staples Center! Sure, we don’t have Paul George playing, but this game should be a fun one because of the names involved. The new-look Lakers versus the new-look Clippers. LeBron was able to “convince” management to trade away essentially the entire roster in order to acquire Anthony Davis and form a dynamic duo. That being said, besides those 2 and Kyle Kuzma, this Lakers team is seriously lacking scoring options. I can legitimately see this Lakers team missing the playoffs this season due to lack of depth and the injury history of LeBron and Davis.
Lack of depth is of no worries for the Clippers. Even without PG13, the Clippers bench still has the 6th-Man of the Year in Lou Williams, Montrezl Harrell, JaMychal Green, and a former starter coming over from Portland in Mo Harkless. If it weren’t for the 2 superstars of the Lakers, Kawhi and company should be able to pull off the upset.
Best Fantasy Performer: Kawhi Leonard
I’m so pumped that the NBA is finally back! Are you as excited as I am? Who do you think gets their first wins tonight? Which player will perform the best for fantasy owners? Let me know in the comments below! Also, check out the shop and other content by clicking here.