Game Preview: Raptors vs Pelicans

Holly MacKenzie - Raptors.com

New Orleans Pelicans (6-6) @ Toronto Raptors (12-1)

When: Monday, November 12th, 7:30 P.M. ET

Where: Scotiabank Arena

Leading into tonight’s game:

Injury Report: For the Raptors, Norman Powell is out with a left shoulder subluxation. The team has issued an injury update, saying that Powell will be out indefinitely after suffering the injury Nov. 5 at Utah. For the Pelicans, the availability of Elfrid Payton (right ankle sprain) and Nikola Mirotic (right ankle sprain) are to be announced.

Recent history: The Raptors enter Monday’s game an NBA-best 12-1 against the New Orleans Pelicans. Toronto has swept the season series the last three seasons against New Orleans. This will be the second game in a three-game homestand at Scotiabank Arena where Toronto (7-0 at home) is one of four teams remaining with a perfect record on their home floor.

Hot shot: The Raptors have three players currently ranked in the top-20 for field goal percentage. Pascal Siakam is fifth, shooting 64.3 percent, Serge Ibaka is 11th, averaging 58.4 percent shooting, and Jonas Valanciunas is 19th, shooting 54.9 percent for the season. Valanciunas has scored in double figures in 11 straight games, posting double figures whether he is in the starting five or coming off the bench as a reserve. He is averaging 13.8 points, 7.6 rebounds, 1.1 assists and 1.1 blocks in 19.2 minutes per game.

Extra Assists

Career-night: Pascal Siakam had another career-high on Saturday, scoring 23 points in Toronto’s 128-112 victory against the New York Knicks. Siakam scored his points on just seven field goals, shooting 6-for-7 from the floor, 3-for-4 from the three-point line and 8-for-9 at the free-throw line. “He’s just playing with a lot of energy on offence,” Raptors head coach Nick Nurse said. “[He’s] making a lot of things happen.” Siakam is averaging 13.3 points and 6.7 rebounds per game.

1000 club: Danny Green made his 1000th career three-pointer on Sunday. Green connected on three triples against the Knicks, and he leads the team from deep this season with 35 made three-pointers on 45 percent shooting. He didn’t know about the milestone until receiving congratulatory texts after the game, and he was quick to credit to his teammates (in San Antonio and here in Toronto) for assisting in his three-pointers over the years. “He understands there’s a process and a work ethic and a time commitment, a mental work ethic that you’ve got to have to do what he does,” Nurse said of Green’s career evolution into a sharpshooter from deep. “[Danny] also says, ‘Well, I better be able to guard a little bit too, if I want to stay out there [on the floor.’ He’s really good. He’s smart defensively, he’s a great team defender and he’ll go to work on guys when he needs to.”

All-around threat: Few players in the league provide as much of a defensive challenge as Pelicans’ forward Anthony Davis. The Pelicans big man is averaging 24.6 points, 12.1 rebounds, 4.9 assists, 3.1 blocks and 1.6 steals per game this season. Monday’s game will be a test for the Raptors on both ends of the floor. “They are one of the prolific offensive teams in the league,” Nurse said. “They play at a super fast pace, they spread you out and they are very talented. We need to guard them. We need to bring our defensive focus tomorrow.”

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