It’s possible to feel bad for Toronto’s opponent tonight, the New Orleans Pelicans. The team is 1-6, there are tons of obvious growing pains going on within the squad, their marquee player Zion Williamson is injured, and it’s clear they’ll probably spend most of the season trying — and failing — to figure out how to win. That’s what happens when teams get bad on purpose.
But like any team that was made bad on purpose, the players — most of whom are quite young — are trying to be good. That goes double when half the squad consists of players who have been already left for dead — Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram chief among them. On opening night, the Raptors were taken into overtime by the hungry team from New Orleans. There were external reasons for this — it was the first game of the year, the squad had just been given their championship rings, it was an emotional night — but it suggests that the Pelicans can be a load.
On that night, as it’s been all season, Ingram led the way with his scoring for the Pelicans. He was supported by the shooting of J.J. Redick (long a thorn in Toronto’s side), Josh Hart (out of nowhere), and Nicolo Melli (even more out of nowhere). This one-game sample also discounts the role Jrue Holliday had and continues to have on his team. And then there’s Ball, with his size, speed, and smarts(?) to spare, who could cause trouble — if he’s good to go tonight.
The Raptors, meanwhile, know who they are and presumably know exactly how to beat the Pelicans. The only question is, once again, who will step up beyond those first seven rotation locks? There are obvious follow-ups to that — does Matt Thomas get more run? Will Chris Boucher do anything of use? Can Terence Davis reclaim some semblance of his preseason form? Will Rondae Hollis-Jefferson get off the bench — but they all amount to the same thing.
For answers to those questions, prepare yourself with Sully’s preview from this morning, and check the updated game details below. And then, let’s watch.
Where to Watch:
TSN 1/4/5, 8pm EST
Toronto – Kyle Lowry, Fred VanVleet, OG Anunoby, Pascal Siakam, Marc Gasol
New Orleans — Lonzo Ball, Jrue Holiday, Josh Hart, Brandon Ingram, Jahlil Okafor
Toronto – Patrick McCaw (Left knee injury — OUT)
New Orleans — Lonzo Ball (Strained adductor — Probable), J.J. Redick (Bruised left knee — Questionable), Zion Williamson (Torn meniscus — OUT), Darius Miller (Ruptured Achilles — OUT)