By: Josh Weinstein
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The Toronto Raptors (6-4) conclude their brief three-game stint at Air Canada Centre with an intriguing matchup against the New Orleans Pelicans (6-5). Toronto is coming off a win over the Chicago Bulls, while New Orleans enters tonight’s game having won three straight. The Pelicans are above .500 for the first time since 2014-15, the last season the team qualified for the postseason.
The mainreason for the team's 6-5 start is DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis. The former Kentucky Wildcat products make up the most lethal front-court right now in the NBA, no ifs, ands or buts about it. Both Cousins and Davis regularly dominate opposing big men. Now, with some experience sharing the floor together, the duo is learning to play off each other. That’s a terrifying prospect for the rest of the NBA, particularly opposing fours and fives.
No other four-five duo can rebound, block shots, distribute, and score anywhere on the floor the way Cousins and Davis do. I mean, really, look at these godly numbers:
- Cousins: 28.9 PPG, 13.6 REB, 5.8 AST, 1.9 BLK, 1.7 STL
- Davis: 28.4 PPG, 12.8 REB, 2.6 AST, 2.1 BLK, 1.2 STL
The Cousins/Davis duo combines for a tad over 57 points per night, and the Pelicans average 106 per game as a team, so shutting Cousins and Davis down offensively essentially means you’re taking away over half of the team’s scoring punch. As an 11-game sample size has proven, though, limiting one or both of the Pelicans all-stars is a nearly impossible task.
Considering how the Raptors starting frontcourt of Serge Ibaka and Jonas Valanciunas haven’t quite developed the greatest chemistry when sharing the floor together, Cousins and Davis could have a field day down low. Ibaka isn’t quite the interior presence from seasons past, while Valanciunas’ defensive struggles are already well-documented.
Tonight’s game is a huge test for the Raptors bigs. We’ll see if they’re up to the task when the game tips-off at 7:30 PM ET.
Here are the projected starting lineups for both teams:
- PG Kyle Lowry
- SG DeMar DeRozan
- SF Norman Powell
- PF Serge Ibaka
- C Jonas Valanciunas
New Orleans Pelicans
- PG Jrue Holiday
- SG E’Twaun Moore
- SF Dante Cunningham
- PF Anthony Davis
- C DeMarcus Cousins