Marc Gasol and the defending champions will attempt to carry their momentum into NBA Opening Night 2019, as the Toronto Raptors host Lonzo Ball and a new-look New Orleans Pelicans squad on Tuesday. The Pelicans are one of the most exciting up-and-coming teams after winning the NBA Draft lottery and selecting Zion Williamson with the first overall pick, although the rookie won't play due to a knee injury. They'll mix their young core with offseason free agent additions J.J. Redick and Derrick Favors. Those two fill vital roles and provide a veteran presence for what is otherwise one of the youngest teams in the NBA. Tipoff is at 8 p.m ET from the Scotiabank Arena. Sportsbooks list Toronto as a seven-point home favorite, while the Over-Under, or total number of points Vegas thinks will be scored, is 229 in the latest Raptors vs. Pelicans odds after the line moved as high as 232.5. Before you make any Pelicans vs. Raptors picks and NBA predictions for Tuesday and beyond, 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 that early in the season, the defending NBA champs will benefit from continuity, something that cannot be said for the Pelicans. New Orleans' only returning rotation players are Holiday, Kenrich Williams, and E'Twaun Moore. Meanwhile, the Raptors return most of their championship core, led by the NBA's 2018-19 Most Improved Player, Pascal Siakam.
Siakam and the Raptors as a whole were far better at home last year. Toronto had a 32-9 record and plus-7.5 point differential at home. Siakam had an improved net rating, true shooting percentage and plus-minus at home, and he'll need to play at a high level for Toronto on Tuesday night and beyond without Kawhi Leonard.
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 well aware of how important the now-departed Kawhi Leonard was to Toronto's success last season. The Raptors averaged 6.4 more points per 100 possessions when Leonard was on the court and their effective field goal percentage rose by 2.8 percent. Leonard averaged 26 points against New Orleans in two matchups.
Jrue 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 Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet plenty of headaches on Tuesday.
In games the Raptors were without Leonard and the opposing team was able to hold Lowry to below 40 percent shooting, the Raptors were just 3-5 against the spread. New Orleans was 25-23-1 against the number as an underdog last season, while the Raptors were 36-46-1 as the favorite.
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.