The Toronto Raptors will be hosting the struggling New Orleans Pelicans on Friday night as they attempt to build on their solid performance against the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday. Pelicans’ All-star Anthony Davis sat out their previous game with a hip injury and is questionable for tonight’s game. He joins other notable New Orleans players such as Norris Cole, Tyreke Evans, Quincy Pondexter, and Kendrick Perkins on the injured list. The Raptors on the other hand will continue to be without the services of both DeMarre Carroll and Terrence Ross. Expect James Johnson to continue to get the starting nod in their absence.
Cage’s Keys to the Game
Close Out Shooters
The Pelicans are another team that likes to have four shooters on the court at the same time and, with Anthony Davis questionable for tonight’s game, look for them to be extra liberal with their attempts from deep. As a point of reference, they made 11 of 18 three pointers in the first half alone against Atlanta on Thursday.
Exploit The Missing Brow
The Pelicans are usually solid when it comes to interior defence but that is largely because they have this generations premier big man in Anthony ‘The Brow’ Davis. Since he’s out with a bruised hip there should be a concerted effort to exploit New Orleans’ lack of rim protection. The Raptors’ best slashers like Demar Derozan, James Johnson and Kyle Lowry should have a field day against Ryan Anderson and Omer Asik.
Put Them Away Early
The Raptors have been notorious this season for having slow starts and as a result they have run the risk of allowing lesser talented teams to hang around into the second half. The Pelicans are currently struggling with injuries and have beeb playing with a shortened rotation so the Raptors need to come out of the gate rolling to put New Oreans out of the game early.
X-Factor: Luis Scola
With the weak Pelicans frontcourt, JV and Scola should look to exploit them. Look for the Raps to run the ball inside early and often, and Scola will likely be the man who gets the easier assignments. He’s a crafty player that should be able to take advantage.