NBA champions, basketball, NBA

Pelicans at Raptors: NBA champions to make winning start

Date: 0100, 23/10/2019

Venue: Scotiabank Arena

TV: Sky Sports Action

The new NBA season gets under way with defending champions Toronto Raptors opening the campaign against the New Orleans Pelicans at the Scotiabank Arena.

Toronto secured their maiden NBA crown last season after defeating the Golden State Warriors 4-2 in the Finals to deny Steve Kerr’s side their third successive title.

The Raptors have lost key man Kawhi Leonard during the off-season but we still expect the Canadian franchise to come out on top in the curtain-raiser at a price of 21/50 as our opening Pelicans at Raptors prediction.

A Look At Toronto Raptors’ Betting Odds

Despite leading the Raptors to an historic NBA title, Leonard decided to leave Canada for a return to his home town with the Los Angeles Clippers and his departure has left a huge void to fill in Toronto’s backcourt.

Leonard averaged 30.5 points, 9.1 rebounds and 3.9 assists in the play-offs alone, and Fred VanVleet, Kyle Lowry and co. will have to step up their collective efforts to have any hope of replicating their 2019 season success.

Leonard may have collected the MVP Finals award but Toronto are not reliant on one player to earn wins for the franchise. VanVleet could flourish with the point guard set to have more influence on the ball alongside excellent ball-handler Lowry.

The addition of All-Star centre Marc Gasol is also seen as a shrewd piece of business and will ease the burden on fellow big man Serge Ibaka.

Toronto are not expected to mount another title tilt but the Eastern Conference is there for the taking again, with the two standout teams coming in the form of the Milwaukee Bucks and Brooklyn Nets.

In the last five meetings between the two sides, there have been 231 or more total match points in each contest but with key men missing from both sides, we like the look of under 232.5 points at 91/100 as our second pick from the Pelicans at Raptors odds.

A Look At New Orleans Pelicans’ Betting Odds

The talk of the summer was college superstar Zion Williamson, who was the first overall pick for the Pelicans in the 2019 NBA Draft.

This is a lot of hype surrounding the small or power forward, with the 19-year-old expected to make a similar impression to LeBron James when he burst onto the scene in 2003.

Williamson and Lonzo Ball have already shown they can link up together in pre-season when they combined for a superb half-court alley-oop against the San Antonio Spurs.

However, New Orleans will have a huge gap to plug of their own after six-time All-Star Anthony Davis ended his seven-year association with the club to join James at the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Pelicans may take a few matches to find their feet as a team, especially on the road, and that is why we fancy the Raptors to win by six or more points at 91/100 as the last of our Pelicans at Raptors betting tips.

Head-to-head: Pelicans 104-127 Raptors, Raptors 110-Pelicans 126, Pelicans 116-125 Raptors, Raptors 122-118 Pelicans 126, Pelicans 87-94 Raptors, Raptors 108-106 (OT) Pelicans.

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