The Utah Jazz will play against their first Eastern Conference opponent tonight as they face off against the 4-3 Toronto Raptors. This Toronto Raptors squad has amongst its ranks to University of Utah alumni in Jakob Poetl and Delon Wright. The two Utah alumni are averaging 19 and 24 minutes per game, respectively.
The Toronto Raptors are coming off a loss against the Denver Nuggets in Denver. The Utah Jazz are the last stop in their 6 game road trip. This looks to be a winnable game for Utah as the Toronto Raptors are probably looking forward to some home-cooking.
Toronto’s offense looks a lot different from last year’s where they took a lot of long two point shots. Now they are focused on the 3 point line and are 13th in attempts. Leading the charge in those attempts are Kyle Lowry, Serge Ibaka, and CJ Miles. Who average a combined 18 attempts per game.
Still taking it old school is DeMar DeRozan who only averages 1.7 3 point attempts a game but still averages 22 points a game. He’ll be a tough cover for the Utah Jazz.
When: Friday, November 3, 7pm MDT
Where: Aunt Viv, (Vivint SmartHome Arena) Salt Lake City, UT
TV: ATT SportsNet Rocky Mountain
Radio: 1280 and 97.5 The Zone
Joe Johnson (Right wrist) F - OUT
Dante Exum (Left shoulder) G -OUT
C.J. Miles (Flu/Cold) F - QUESTIONABLE
What To Watch For:
Toronto’s Mid Range Game
It seems odd to type that a team has to watch out for any team’s midrange prowess in the age of 7 seconds or less basketball, but that’s the only shot Utah allows opponents. Teams that play don’t get the corner 3 and they don’t get many opportunities at the rim. But they do get a lot of midrange looks which most teams are not adept at making. But not the Toronto Raptors. They’re unique built to beat Utah in that regard.
DeMar DeRozan and Serge Ibaka especially who average 57% and 67% from 10-16 feet. If the Jazz lose tonight it’ll be at the hands of DeRozan and Ibaka’s mid-range shooting.
Ricky Rubio: Scoring Point Guard
Ricky Rubio has averaged 20 points or more in his last 3 games. Ricky Rubio has improved his shooting, shooting almost 37% from 3 this season. Defenses have chosen to snipe passing lanes or double Rudy Gobert in Rubio pick and rolls leaving Rubio wide open. If Rubio continues to shoot at an improved rate then we could see defenses starting to guard Rubio more closely which just opens up Rudy to a monster game.
The other possibility does exist as well. Rudy could cool off and leave Utah and the Utah offense could slam to halt.
Rodney Hood and Consistency
No one will doubt that Rodney Hood can be a big-time scorer. Everyone will doubt if he can do that more than once or twice every 10 games. While Rodney Hood is averaging 14.3 points per game. Those games have been all over the place. He’s had three games with 20 points or more and two of those have come in losses. Meanwhile he’s had three games with 13 points or less, two of those games he he had 6 points and 0 points. All games that Rodney has had 13 points or less the Utah Jazz have won.
What Utah needs from Rodney is a consistent player. Ironically, the Raptors feature another guard/forward like Rodney who at one point was a very inconsistent Jazz player: C.J. Miles. No one disputes Hood’s talent. But his ability to become a consistent player is going to determine whether Utah seeks to extend him this offseason.
For those out there saying, well look at Rodney’s averages. Let’s talk a little bit about averages. If I told you there were two restaurants that averaged a B rating. It probably wouldn’t matter which one you chose. But if I told you that one of those restaurants, depending on the night, could give you A+ food, but you had a 35% chance of it giving you food poisoning, you might choose the other restaurant. That’s the difference between averages and mean. Rodney Hood’s performances will give you every point in a scatter plot right now and Utah needs close groupings.
Most Likely Jazz-Killer: DeMar DeRozan
This seems a match made in h*ck. Jazz give up the midrange shot because it’s inefficient, enter DeMar DeRozan, the man who loves midrange shots so much, he has almost made them efficient. DeRozan could make life miserable for Utah tonight.