Raptors vs. Pelicans odds, line: 2019 NBA Opening Night picks, predictions from proven computer model
Pascal Siakam and the 2018-19 NBA Champion Toronto Raptors will look to start their season the way they ended the last one, with a win. They host Jrue Holiday and a revamped New Orleans Pelicans squad for NBA Opening Night 2019 on Tuesday. The Pelicans are one of the most exciting up-and-coming teams after winning the NBA Draft lottery and selecting Zion Williamson first overall. They pair Williamson with a talented young core that includes key pieces from the Anthony Davis trade like Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball. New Orleans will have to wait to see all the pieces come together, though, as Williamson will miss Tuesday's season-opener with a knee injury. Tipoff is set for 8 p.m ET from the Scotiabank Arena. Sportsbooks list the Raptors as seven-point home favorites, while the Over-Under, or total number of points Vegas thinks will be scored, is 231.5 in the latest Raptors vs. Pelicans odds after moving as high as 232.5. Before you make any Pelicans vs. Raptors picks, see what SportsLine's advanced computer model has to say.
The SportsLine Projection Model simulates every NBA game 10,000 times, and anyone who followed it last season saw massive returns. The model finished 300-252 on all its top-rated picks. On top-rated against-the-spread and money line NBA picks alone, the model returned a whopping $4,280.
Now, it has locked in on Raptors vs. Pelicans. We can tell you it's leaning under, and it also says one side of the spread hits in nearly 60 percent of simulations. You can only see that selection at SportsLine.
The model is well aware of how much of an advantage home court was for Toronto last year. The Raptors posted a 32-9 record when defending their home court and had a plus-7.5 point differential at home, as opposed to plus-4.6 mark on the road. Toronto especially took pride in its defense on its home court, dropping opponent field goal percentage to a minuscule 39.8 percent.
The pride in their defense starts with the 2018-19 Most Improved Player, Pascal Siakam. "Spicy P" posted an improved net rating, true shooting percentage and plus-minus at home, and he will look to provide high energy for the Raptors in their opener. Toronto also posted a 15-7 record against the spread without Kawhi Leonard last year, so it is clear that this team knows how to win without him.
Just because New Orleans might not have team chemistry doesn't mean Toronto will cover the Raptors vs. Pelicans spread on Tuesday.
The model is also well aware of how well New Orleans matches up with Toronto defensively. The player who picked up the scoring slack when Leonard wasn't on the court last year was Kyle Lowry. Most would probably have expected it to be Siakam, but his usage rate only rose by one percent with Leonard off the court, while his points per 36 minutes only rose by 0.44. Meanwhile, Lowry's usage rate rose by 3.5 percent without Leonard, while his scoring rose by 3.35 points per 36 minutes.
This is important because Holiday and Lonzo Ball combine to give New Orleans the best on-paper defensive guard combo in the NBA. Holiday was named First-Team All Defensive Team in the 2017-18 season and was Second-Team last year. Those two guards have the length and physicality to give Lowry headaches. In games the Raptors were without Leonard and the opposing team was able to hold Lowry to below 40 percent shooting, Toronto was just 3-5 against-the-spread.
So who wins Pelicans vs. Raptors? And which side of the spread can you bank on in nearly 60 percent of simulations? Visit SportsLine now to find out which side of the Pelicans vs. Raptors spread you need to jump on Tuesday, all from the model that has crushed its NBA picks, and find out.