Raptors vs Pelicans Picks and Predictions: Defense Comes First in NOLA

Just as the Raptors appear to be getting over their litany of injuries, the Pelicans are getting more and more banged up. Now, does this mean Toronto is in the driver's seat? Maybe, but we've got our eyes set on the total in tonight's betting picks.

Last Updated: Nov 30, 2022 1:41 PM ET Read Time: 4 min
Pascal Siakam Toronto Raptors NBA
Photo By - USA TODAY Sports

The Toronto Raptors appear to have staved off extinction. The team is getting healthy after getting hit with an incredible amount of injuries early in the season. More specifically, Pascal Siakam is back.

The Raptors forward looked good in his return to the court, helping his team to a victory over a tough Cleveland Cavaliers team. Now, he’ll look to carry that momentum into tonight’s game when Toronto hits the road to take on the physical New Orleans Pelicans.

The Pels head into this matchup a little banged up as well, but have won six of their last eight overall. NBA odds have listed this game as pretty much a coin flip, so where is the betting edge? I break down the numbers and bring you my best bet in today's NBA picks and predictions for Raptors vs. Pelicans.

Raptors vs Pelicans best odds

Raptors vs Pelicans picks and predictions

The impact of Pascal Siakam’s (and Scottie Barnes for that matter) return was immediately felt on the court for the Raptors as the team dominated a very good Cavaliers team 100-88 on Monday night. 

But the return of Siakam & Co. isn’t just a boon for the Raptors offense. The Raptors defense did a solid job despite all the injuries and looked even better as the group returned close to full health. They looked long and athletic in limiting the Cavaliers to just 88 points on 38% shooting, including 28% from 3-point range.

The Raptors now rank seventh in the NBA when it comes to defensive rating, and are tops in the Association in steals per game. And over their last six games, they are limiting teams to 104.3 points per contest.

Now, they’ll take on a Pelicans team that is going through its own spot of injuries. Brandon Ingram and CJ McCollum are both out tonight and while the Pels offense has been excellent this season, there's no replacing Ingram and McCollum, who combine for nearly 40 points per game. 

On defense, New Orleans is a physical and tough bunch ranking fifth in defensive rating this season, and this matchup against Toronto's offense is an interesting one. 

Toronto generates a good chunk of its production in transition off turnovers but the halfcourt offense leaves something to be desired. To the point where they rank next-to-last in the NBA when it comes to effective field goal percentage.

On top of that, the Raptors rank 25th in the NBA in terms of pace and with no Ingram or McCollum, you can expect a slowed-down, more deliberate pace from the Pelicans offense, meaning the total of 221.5 feels too high.

My best bet: Under 221.5 (-107 at PointsBet)

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Raptors vs Pelicans spread analysis

The spread for this matchup hit the board with the Pelicans as 1-point home favorites, but early action came in on the Raptors and the line jumped the fence as Toronto became the 1-point chalk. Then the news that McCollum would not play dropped and the Raptors moved to -2. That’s where the line sits as of Wednesday afternoon.

And it makes sense. Missing Ingram and McCollum is a big deal for the Pels. The last time out against Oklahoma City was the first time all season that neither played and while the Pels ended up winning, they scored just 105 points and didn’t cover the 5.5-point spread.

Meanwhile, the Raptors are 8-2 against the spread when Siakam suits up this season. No official play here, but the Raptors defense should have a big edge against a Pelicans team missing its best shooters. Zion Williamson may get his in the paint, but the scoring for his teammates could be a problem. I like the Raptors to ride this wave of good health to another win, so I would lean toward them ATS as well.

Raptors vs Pelicans Over/Under analysis

The total hit the board at 224.5, and the early money combined with the news that McCollum won’t play dropped the number to 221.5. And clearly, I still like the Under at this number.

Yes, Pascal being back is a huge boost to the Raptors offense, but this is still a middling attack in general. They rank 19th in scoring at 110.8 points per game and are coming off a game against another strong defensive team in Cleveland where the Raps put up just 100 points. 

The Raptors can also be a very streaky shooting team, ranking 23rd in 3-point shooting percentage and going against a Pelicans team that ranks third in the NBA when it comes to defending the 3-ball.

As noted, the Pels offense obviously loses some pop without McCollum and Ingram. They scored just 105 points against the Thunder, and maybe more importantly, shot just 28% from 3-point range in that game. 

This should be a tight, low-scoring game, and the Under looks like a solid play.

Raptors vs Pelicans betting trend to know

The Under is 7-1 in the Pelicans' last eight home games. Find more NBA betting trends for Raptors vs. Pelicans.

Raptors vs Pelicans game info

Location: Smoothie King Center, New Orleans, LA
Date: Wednesday, November 30, 2022
Tip-off: 8:00 p.m. ET
TV: TSN, Bally Sports New Orleans

Raptors vs Pelicans key injuries

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