Though the “bursts of winning and losing” trend continued for the Toronto Raptors after their most recent loss to the Phoenix Suns, their play of late over this West coast swing has been much more encouraging. Seemingly gone are the 20-30—point deficits coming out of the first or second quarter. Sadly, they’ve been replaced with Toronto running out of gas by the time the fourth quarter rolls around. Back-to-back matchups or not, Raptors fans know by now that the 2022-2023 iteration of this team are going to live and die by their starting lineup. Nick Nurse’s mistrust of his bench likely isn’t going to change at this point. Now, that starting lineup wager has an even smaller margin of error with the absence of OG Anunoby due to his wrist injury — or, if you’re a trade deadline truther, being held out. So what is Toronto to do with the upcoming matchup with the Utah Jazz?
For starters, they could sure stand to do away with the never-ending barrage of uncontested layups. Since their game against the Warriors, it seems as if the Raptors are inviting their opponents to the company’s annual layup line in hopes of better defending the three point shot. While the strategy worked against a Portland team that, frankly, isn’t as good as the Warriors or Suns, it isn’t one that is going to hold water for very long against most teams in the NBA.
On the other hand, The Utah Jazz are not most teams! Utah and their “we were supposed to be tanking” lineup of castaways could be one of those teams where the strategy pays off. Save for Walker Kessler, who looks to be the perfect replacement for Rudy Gobert, the Jazz’ starting lineup is littered with high volume and decent efficiency three point shooters. Could running them off the line help to stave off the bleeding that occurs the moment Toronto goes away from their starting lineup? Or will Toronto suffer another defeat that further pushes the trade deadline narrative deeper and deeper into fans’ collective consciousness?
Where to Watch:
Sportsnet, 9 PM ET
Toronto Raptors – Fred VanVleet, Gary Trent Jr., Pascal Siakam, Scottie Barnes, Precious Achiuwa
Utah Jazz – Mike Conley, Jordan Clarkson, Malik Beasley, Lauri Markkanen, Walker Kessler
Toronto Raptors – OG Anunoby (wrist – out), Otto Porter Jr. (out forever)
Utah Jazz – Simone Fontecchio (foot – out)