Raptors open season as betting favourites hosting Pelicans


New Orleans Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday (11) drives around Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet (23) during second half NBA basketball action in Toronto on Monday, November 12, 2018. (Nathan Denette/CP)

The Toronto Raptors will begin the defence of their NBA championship on Tuesday night when they open their regular-season schedule against the visiting New Orleans Pelicans as 7-point home favourites on the NBA odds at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

While the team will unfurl its 2019 championship banner ahead of Tuesday night’s Pelicans vs. Raptors betting matchup at Scotiabank Arena, it will be a very different Toronto team that takes the floor in this season’s home opener.

Gone is playoff hero Kawhi Leonard, who left town for the Los Angles Clippers as a free agent, while Danny Green also headed west to the Los Angeles Lakers. With the Raptors failing to fill the massive void left by Leonard’s departure, and conference rivals beefing up during one of the deepest free-agent markets in NBA history, the team enters the season amid tempered expectations.

The Raptors lag as a lengthy +550 wager on the NBA betting futures to repeat as Atlantic Division champions, and are also expected to perform well behind last season’s 58-win pace, with +105 odds of winning OVER 46.5 games on the NBA season props. Toronto also posted middling results in preseason action, posting wins in just two of four outings, but closed things out on a high with a decisive 123-107 win in Brooklyn on Friday night.

The team has also enjoyed success against their opening-night opponents, claiming SU wins in 15 of 19 meetings with the Pelicans since November 2009. That run includes a 7-2 SU record in meetings on home court. The Raptors came up short the last time the Pelicans came to town, dropping a 126-110 decision as 9.5-point chalk last November, but have been dominant in recent season-opening clashes at home, winning outright in each of their past six.

The Pelicans also sport a different look to kick off their 2019/20 NBA campaign. A trade that sent star power forward Anthony Davis to the Los Angeles Lakers returned an abundance of young talent and draft picks, including rising stars Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram. The Pelicans impressed in preseason action, marching to a perfect 5-0 record while averaging 127.75 points over their first four contests.

However, New Orleans won’t have top draft pick Zion Williamson in the lineup to start the season, as he’ll be out for up to two months after undergoing knee surgery on Monday. And after closing out last season on a dismal 3-13 straight up run to finish with a 33-49 record, New Orleans remains a +210 underdog at online betting sites to make the playoffs for just the third time in nine years, and is a +6000 longshot on the NBA championship odds.

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