The Utah Jazz have played some bad teams on this road trip. The Pistons, Knicks, and Pacers are the #12, #13, and #14 teams in the Eastern Conference right now. They've gone 2-1 against them. The Jazz have also played against one playoff team, the Hawks, and got shut out in the fourth quarter (scoring only 9 points) to lose a game they should have won. Tonight they will face off against the East leading Toronto Raptors, in their gym, after they had the night off.
Compounding that should be the cumulative fatigue effects of playing on the second night of a back to back, the third game in four nights, the fourth game in six nights, and the fifth game in seven nights. The Jazz *should* be more tire -- but I am sure Quin Snyder is telling them that it is all mental at this point -- after all our core players are all 25 or younger, and no one is playing Luol Deng style minutes on this team. If anything, some fans are arguing that Snyder's rotation is too generous.
Anyway, one more game. This will be the Eastern Conference boss fight for this trip, and the Raptors are a great measuring stick to fight against. Utah has not yet had a complete game against any of these Eastern conf teams. A quarter here, a half there, but to beat Toronto they will have to be dialed in and try to play as mistake free as possible. (That's the main Raptors ploy, they cause turn overs, which leads to their fast break, which leads to scoring a lot of points. It's been working so far this year.)
The Jazz are 25-10 all-time against Toronto, and 12-5 in Toronto. This game shouldn't be as easy as some of those other games in previous seasons though.
Oh man, Trey Burke may be out of his shooting slump, but he's going right into the fire against Kyle Lowry, who could be an All-Star this year. There's an error in the above image, he's averaging 6.0 APG, not 2.6. I'm too pressed for time today to fix it. Alec Burks, hopefully, will be matched up against Terrence Ross -- because I don't think he's strong enough to deal with DeMar DeRozan. That should be Gordon Hayward 's task.
The bigs are somewhat evenly matched, with Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors being big enough to tango with Amir Johnson and Jonas Valanciunas. (Not Valanviunas --- again, pressed for time).
Utah kind of has this equality thing going, but the Raptors know who their best players are, and they dominate the ball and the shot attempts.
Both coaches are likely to go more than just 9 deep, but these (factoring injuries) are the main movers and shakers off the bench. Louis Williams and Patrick Patterson are starting quality players on non-playoff teams. So they are more than capable of giving teams fits. Williams can be explosive, and as a combo guard, will be used to create mismatches. Patterson is a stretch big who can still get it done in the paint. Tyler Hansbrough is a hustle guy who isn't afraid to mix it up. And James Johnson has had a big night against the Jazz before . . . I wouldn't put it against him to hold back against our second unit.
That said, I still do love what our bench brings to the table. Dante Exum is learning the game still, and is capable of making the three pointer off the curl. He isn't sloppy with the ball, and neither is Joe Ingles. These guys may not put up the big numbers, but they do play winning basketball. Rudy Gobert is just massive. His size makes numbers guys turn into poets. And Trevor Booker is like a mix of Hansbrough and Patterson put together.
Neither team has an overall advantage. The Jazz are bigger inside, but don't have a scorer. The Raptors do.
- Greivis Vasquez (TOR) -- their back up PG is going to be a game time decision
- Landry Fields (TOR) -- their expensive deep bench wing player is probable tonight
- Rodney Hood (UTA) -- our main scoring option on the bench will miss his 5th straight game, and is out
Enjoy the game.
GO JAZZ GO!
Who is going to win tonight?
This poll is closed
The Utah Jazz
The Toronto Raptors