Update: Fred VanVleet is a late scratch for the Raptors, while OG Anunoby and Gary Trent Jr. are in. The Raptors are now 4-point favorites against the spread and we’ll maintain our pick there even with VanVleet out. The total has shifted to 226.5, which seems like a natural movement having nothing to do with VanVleet. We were on the over before but we’ll take the under now with the point guard out.
The NBA returns on Thursday with a nine-game slate that features the New Orleans Pelicans (30-29) traveling to face the Toronto Raptors (28-31) at Scotiabank Arena. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET, with the Raptors hoping to avenge their loss the last time these two teams met. Back in late November, the Pelicans walked away with a convincing 126-108 victory.
For the Pelicans, Larry Nance Jr. is probable to return after sitting out their last game due to a groin injury. Zion Williamson remains out as he continues to nurse a right hamstring strain. For Toronto, Gary Trent Jr. is probable to return after sitting out the last two games with a calf strain. OG Anunoby is expected to return as well after missing some time with a wrist issue.
The Raptors are 5.5-point home favorites at DraftKings Sportsbook with the point total sitting at 226. On the moneyline, Toronto is -215 while New Orleans is +185.
Pelicans vs. Raptors, 7:30 p.m. ET
Pick ATS: Raptors -5.5
In addition to the significant absence of Williamson, the Pelicans have struggled mightily on the road this season. They are just 11-17-1 versus the spread away from home and boast a straight-up record of 10-19. New Orleans also entered the All-Star break 4-6 through the last 10 games, and it’s hard to see the Pelicans bucking the trend on the long trip up north. Go with the home favorites and healthier team in the Raptors here.
Over/Under: Over 226
The Pelicans’ overloaded the Raptors with 126 points when they last faced off at full strength, but it’s their lackluster defense on the road that sets up a total that could finish over. New Orleans ranks 16th in scoring defense this season, but its average bumps up to 116.9 PPG allowed when on the road. 18 of New Orleans’ 29 games on the road have hit the over as well, so go with the historical track record here and expect a high-scoring affair to finish over.