NBA Opening Night Preview: New Orleans Pelicans vs. Toronto Raptors and Los Angeles Lakers vs. Los Angeles Clippers

The 2019-20 NBA season tips off tonight. Here’s what you need to know for the two Oct. 22 games.

New Orleans Pelicans vs. Toronto Raptors:

Zion Williamson’s NBA debut will have to wait as the New Orleans Pelicans travel to Toronto to take on the reigning champions. 

The big headline heading into this matchup is the absence of first overall pick Zion Williamson. When the NBA schedule makers originally made the schedules, the Pelicans were given the opening night game due to the attraction of the star rookie. With Zion expected to miss up to two months with a knee injury, the Pelicans will turn to 28-year-old rookie Nicolo Melli, who is coming over after playing several seasons in the Italian league.

J.J. Redick also makes his Pelicans debut as he will be the sixth man for the team this season. He is coming off a year in which he put up a career-high in points with Philly. 

The Pelicans are also without their best player from last season, as Anthony Davis was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers after requesting a trade last February. Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, and Josh Hart, who were all acquired in the deal, will play critical roles for the Pelicans this season. 

As for the Raptors, the team is expected to take a step back after Kawhi Leonard signed with the Los Angeles Clippers in July. The Raptors need OG Anunoby to have a breakout season, as he will be their starting small forward this season.  

With Kawhi Leonard gone, Pascal Siakam will become the main focus of the Raptors’ offense. Siakam should earn his first all-star appearance this season as he will improve upon last year as the reigning Most Improved Player. 

Along with Leonard, Danny Green also left Toronto by signing with the Los Angeles Lakers. Norman Powell is expected to fill in at shooting guard for him, although Fred Van Vleet may get some starts as well. 

Last season, these two teams split the season series at one game apiece.

Game Info 

Date: October 22, 2019

Start time: 8:00 p.m. EST

Location: Toronto, Ontario

Stadium: Scotiabank Stadium

TV Info: TNT

Betting Odds:

Point Spread: NOP +7 (-109) | TOR -7 (-108)

Moneyline: NOP: (+245) | TOR: (-290)

Over/Under: 231: Over (-110) | Under (-110)

Williamson’s absence changes the spread of this game from a -5.5 to -7 with Toronto as the favorite. 


The loss of Williamson will hurt the Pelicans, as well as all viewers of this opening night game. With that said, this Pelicans roster is a lot deeper than people realize, and they certainly have the bench advantage over the Raptors. Lonzo Ball can neutralize Kyle Lowry on offense to some degree, while Jrue Holiday will be able to create his own shots or set up teammates offensively. Pascal Siakam could go off, but the team around him won’t be as good, and the Pelicans will come in and defeat the reigning champs. Both offenses may stall, and bettors should take the under in this game. 

Final Score: Pelicans 104, Raptors 100

Los Angeles Lakers vs. Los Angeles Clippers

Kawhi Leonard and Anthony Davis each make debuts for their respective teams as this L.A.-on-L.A. showdown should be a good one.

Unlike Raptors vs. Pelicans, this game is going to be an enjoyable one to watch. Kawhi Leonard makes his long-awaited Clippers debut, and we’ll also finally get our first taste of the Anthony Davis-Lebron James tandem as well. Clippers superstar Paul George is out, however, as he is still recovering from shoulder surgery he had in the offseason. 

With George out, the Clippers’ starting lineup consists of Patrick Beverley, Landry Shamet, Kawhi Leonard, JaMychal Green, and Ivica Zubac. Of course, Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell will play key roles off the bench, as well. 

As for the Lakers, they will be without Kyle Kuzma as he recovers from a foot injury he suffered in the offseason. While not official, the Lakers’ starting five will likely be LeBron James, Avery Bradley, Danny Green, Anthony Davis, and JaVale McGee. Alex Caruso is also questionable with a bruised pelvis he suffered in the Lakers’ preseason game against the Warriors. 

While it’s unclear how significant his role will be, Dwight Howard will be making his second Lakers debut as the backup to JaVale McGee. Howard’s first stint with the Lakers was a complete bust, but the 33-year-old veteran is hoping to revive his career with the Lakers this season. 

This matchup is going to be a very entertaining game that gives us a sense of how the Western Conference may shape up this season. Given that both Los Angeles teams acquired superstar players, they are both projected to be finals contenders. 

While historically the Clippers have always been the less favored child in L.A., the Clippers and Lakers are now both dominant teams. This intra-city rivalry is going to be fun to watch all season. Last season, they split the season series at two games apiece. 

Game Info 

Date: October 22, 2019

Start time: 10:30 p.m. EST

Location: Los Angeles, California

Stadium: Staples Center

TV Info: TNT

Betting Odds 

Point Spread: LAL: -2 (-105) | LAC: +2 (-105)

Moneyline: LAL: (-125) | LAC: (+120)

Over/Under: 227: (-105)

With George out, the Lakers come in as a two-point favorite in this game. 


Despite the absence of Paul George, Kawhi Leonard will be motivated to rally his team and try to show the city that the Clippers are their future. Lou Williams will also have a big game off the bench with 20-plus points, while Montrezl Harrell will contribute off the bench, too. Anthony Davis’s first game as a Laker will be spoiled by 30-plus from the Klaw, and the Clippers will come away with a convincing and high-scoring opening-night win. Unlike the earlier game, this game should cover and the over will be met.

Final Score: Clippers 126, Lakers 113


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