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I knew it was a bad idea as soon as I pressed the “I Confirm” button.

Raptors over the Jazz.

Perhaps I was blinded by the back-to-back wins. The “improved” defense. The fact that the Jazz had lost in OT on the road the night before.

Regardless, I knew right away that I had flushed my money away. That much was confirmed a few hours later, as the Jazz put the finishing touches on a 111-98 victory.

To confess, I gamble on sports. No poker, no lotteries. Just sports. I don’t handicap the games to death. I just make a few plays in order to add some excitement to the many games I watch.

As of late, my cash cow has been the Raptors. They recently ran off a streak of ten straight against-the-spread victories, making even their losses bearable. Well, except for the New Jersey game…

It did not take long for my hunch to be confirmed as the Jazz were able to score at will against the Raptors defense. Of course, defense is a term I use very loosely. The so-called improvements were not evident. The Raps allowed the Jazz to score 54 points in the first half and then allowed 33 more in the third quarter.

Know this: the Jazz are the third-worst shooting team in the NBA, shooting 42.7% from the floor coming into the game. Against the Raps, the Jazz were monster hot from the field, shooting 55%. Cause and effect? Hmmm....

The Four Factors

No, not a sixties doo-wop group or a kung-fu flick. Instead, the Four Factors are the brainchild of basketball analyst Dean Oliver.

Oliver, who is currently employed by the Seattle SuperSonics (speaking of bad defense…), authoured Basketball on Paper, an excellent study of the measurement of basketball performance.

Oliver broke down what he considered the four essential factors to success in a basketball game: Shooting, Rebounding, Free Throws and Turnovers.

Looking at the Jazz game, it’s pretty easy to see that the better team won:

SHOOTING (Effective FG% = (FGM+3PM/2)/FGA)

Toronto: 49.3% Utah: 55.6%
2005 NBA Average: 47.8%

REBOUNDING: (Percentage of Offensive/Defensive Rebounds)

Toronto: Off: 25.6% Utah: Off: 40.5%
Def: 59.5% Def: 74.5%
2005 NBA Average: Off: 29.0% Def: 71.0%

FREE THROWS: (100*FTM/FGA)

Toronto: 45.6% Utah: 27.5%
2005 NBA Average: 24%

TURNOVERS: (Turnovers per 100 possessions)

Toronto: 16.7 Utah: 13.6
2005 NBA Average: 15.6

The one positive evident from these stats is that the Raptors did a great job of getting to the line and making their shots. This has never been an area in which the team has succeeded. Chris Bosh and Jalen Rose got to the line 23 times between the two of them, on 26 shot attempts. They managed to hit 18 of them. Hopefully, the team can keep up this positive trend. Yet, as the other stats show, they have much to improve on in the areas of defense, rebounding and ball protection.

Chapman’s Random Thoughts

- It was clear that Mike James wasn’t 100% tonight. Just didn’t have the mobility and aggressiveness that he typically shows.

- Another off night for CV Smooth. Four fouls in seven minutes just isn’t going to cut it.

- I guess Matt Bonner showed the National Post reporter who claimed he had “lost his touch”

- I guess I couldn’t get you a link to the story as I am not a National Post online subscriber.

- Is anyone a National Post online subscriber?

- NBAdraft.net has the Raptors taking Josh Boone with the 17th pick in their latest mock draft.

- No one asked me, but I think I’d rather have Hilton Armstrong at 17 if you forced me to select a Connecticut Huskie.

- I have no idea what they're saying (they sing in Swedish), but I find myself loving Dungen's Ta Det Lungt album.

Howland’s Random Thoughts

- AK47 sure had his finger on the trigger all night….with extra clips of ammo. That was a SICK dunk on Bosh.

- A lot of the time I think Bosh is going to cram and he lays it up. He needs to finish harder to intimidate the D and then demoralize them with the 15 footer.