NBA Regular Season: Toronto Raptors (4-15) at Utah Jazz (10-10) -- Game Preview

Tom Szczerbowski-US PRESSWIRE

Game #21 • EnergySolutions Arena • Salt Lake City, UT • December 5, 2012 • 7:00 p.m. (MT) • TV: ROOT Sports • RADIO: 1280 AM/97.5 FM and 1600 AM ESPN Deportes

NBA Regular Season 2012-2013, Game 21:

Toronto Raptors (4-15) at Utah Jazz (10-10)

#TORatUTA Game Stream -- Raptors HQ (SB Nation Blog) -- Raptors vs Jazz coverage

Oh Canada! You deserve a better NBA team during the NHL lockout . . .

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The Basics:

We know this team. They may have a bad record (part of that is due to their horrible schedule), but it's not like we can overlook them. After all, in the last two games these teams have played the Jazz only have 1 win, but did play 5 overtime periods. Furthermore, the team we played earlier this season isn't the same team we're going to play tonight. Kyle Lowry will be starting for Toronto, he didn't play in the first game. And well, we have a number of injuries now that we did not previously have. We're at home. We have only 1 loss a home. They're on the road. They only have 1 win on the road. But we can't just assume victory. The .500 record and 5 OT periods of our last two meetings suggest that doing so would be folly.

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History:

The Utah Jazz are 24 and 8 against the Raptors All-Time, with a commanding 12-4 record at home. Of course, one of those four losses came in our last home game against Toronto. These two teams faced off earlier this season and it was a crazy game.

It was a really exciting finish to this game, but I can't help but feel like we were a little bit lucky and got the W. It's not due to demonstrated career three point shooting ability that we send the game to OT in the first place, it *was* kinda lucky.

I hope our luck doesn't run out tonight.

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Scouting, Stats, and Stereotypes:

G21_tor_at_uta_-_teams

It may be a surprise to see this, but the Raptors aren't a good defensive club. They are 27 out of 30 teams in opponents fg%, give up a ton of good looks from downtown, and only one team sends their opponents to the line more than they do. These become force multipliers as eFG% and FT/FGA ratio are two of the four defensive factors that help calculate ability to win games -- and those two factors have the Raptors ranted #26 and #29. Toronto keeps teams from getting offensive boards, but over all, they get pounded on the glass.

This will be an interesting point because they are #3rd best at keeping teams off the offensive glass, while we're #3rd best in the league at getting offensive boards. So, strength vs strength here. Toronto also takes care of the ball (what else can you say about a Jose Calderon team?), there are few Raptors turn overs.Toronto doesn't get to the line much (16th in the NBA per game), but they are one of the best teams when they get there. Which can be a problem because it's not like the Jazz keep the other team off the line. Utah is ranked 25 out of 30 in opponents FTA/gm. It's not as bad as the Raptors 29th out of 30, but it's going to mean there COULD be a lot of fouls tonight.

Which favors the team shooting 78 ft%, which isn't us.

We're a really good rebounding club and block a lot of shots. They take care of the ball, and keep teams from getting second shots. That's where the battle will lie tonight. That and in Andrea Bargnani 's capable hands (there's no Derrick Favors around this time to shut him down in crunch time).

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Injury Report:

Raptors Injuries --

  • Landry Fields (SG) OUT -- Fields, a big free agent signing, is out indefinitely with right elbow surgery
  • Linas Kleiza (SF/PF) IN -- Linas had a sore hip and was doubtful for tonight, but he's good to go
  • Alan Anderson (SF/SG) OUT -- Anderson is out and expected to miss over a month with torn plantar fascia in his left foot.

Jazz Injuries --

  • Mo Williams (PG) OUT -- Mo has gastric distress. His wife probably bought some egg nog. I'd have gastric distress too if that somehow showed up in my fridge.
  • Al Jefferson (C/PF) GAME TIME DECISION -- Big Al hurt his back at the end of our last game and had to be helped off the court.
  • Derrick Favors (PF/C) OUT -- Favors is out with plantar fasciitis -- no official timetable exists for his result. Furthermore, I have no clue how bad this injury is because there's a huge variation in severity. Just check Anderson above and see what I mean.
  • Marvin Williams (SF/PF) IN -- Marvin came back and played in his first game since hitting his head on the New Orleans Pelican's floor (Nov 28th) back on Wednesday (Dec 5th). He'll be needed tonight.
  • Raja Bell (SG) OUT -- Raja is busy tonight as he just joined MySpace and he's working on his page layout.

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Advantage --

We're still reeling from the loss of Raja Bell -- the Raps clearly have the health advantage here. Landy's loss is somewhat mitigated by the free agent signing of Mickael Pietrus anyway . . .

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The Game:

This is the third game in a five game road trip for Toronto, they previously played (and lose) in Denver and Sacramento. This is not a b2b game or the 3rd game in four nights for the Raps; I don't know how they get those types of spaced out road trips -- but we do not? (IS this a problem of the Sunday home games?) For the Jazz, this is the last of our 3 game home stand. Utah is back on the road on Sunday. So, let's make this one count, folks.

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Player Focus:

Randy Foye? It's me, Amar. Are you there? You can't shoot 1 for everything, and expect it to be okay, especially when Arron Afflalo looks at you like YOU ARE CHRISTMAS MORNING and rips you to shreds. Part of why we fell for you was because you were shooting nearly 10% better from three than your career average. It may not have been statistically reasonable to expect you to keep it up . . . but it kept the dogs at bay while you let everyone from Danny Green to Jordan Crawford have near career games against you.

I'm not expecting you to transform yourself into a great perimeter defender overnight. I'm just asking you to shoot better than you did last night. I know you can. You usually always do. This is a big game, because we're hurt. When your team is missing some starters it's up to the OTHER, healthy starters to step up. You're a starter here. You need to step up. In the NBA starters can contribute in more than one way, and stay on the floor. You are only a few games removed from that crazy 20 / 6 / 4 night. If you have another one of those up your sleeves -- tonight would be a good night to pull it out.

Thanks Randy. I love our chats. PS. I did try the recipe for the guac dip you pinned on pinterest. It was a big hit at work. XXOOXXleetlekeesHUGHUGBeegHugkeeskees

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X-Factors:

Have you heard about this Linas Kleiza fellow? I'm not going to go into it, for fear of anti-reverse-reverse-jinxing us.

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Word from the Badguys:

I actually had a good convo with a couple of my awesome Canadian bball fans today, but I'm too swamped with work to include them here. That said -- I love my Canadian bball buddies.

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As an aside:

It's always fun to watch the Raptors take on the Jazz for me. For one, it was one of the few reliable ways that I would ever get to see the Jazz on TV -- because back in the olden days of "international NBA fan life" living in Canada, this stuff was on in prime time.

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Fearless Prediction:

Jazz win. Why? Because the Raptors find ways to lose games, especially on the road.

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