The Raptors’ long Western road trip will finally come to an end with tonight’s matchup in Utah.
Following a pair of losses to both Los Angeles teams earlier in the week, Toronto is 2-3 on this trip that began in Memphis on January 3rd. Before heading out west, the Raptors were 4-11 on the road (.267 win percentage), meaning they’ve actually improved their road winning percentage on this trip despite the three losses. With a current road winning percentage of .300, a win tonight would bring that up to .333!
Let’s not get ahead of ourselves though, Utah is no slouch. The Raptors held a nearly 20-point lead over the Jazz heading into the 4th quarter on December 23rd, at home, and lost the game by six points. The Jazz have actually exceeded expectations thus far, sitting at 19-20 overall and 12-5 at home, only missing out on the last play-in spot in the West due to a tiebreaker with the Lakers. Not bad for a team that was expected to be in the bottom of the lottery and is still shopping its top star.
“I’ve been told [Utah Jazz] will listen on anyone on the roster…With [Lauri] Markkanen, he’s not untouchable but it’s going to take one of your untouchables to get him”— NBACentral (@TheDunkCentral) January 12, 2024
(Via https://t.co/PpbzvkbkEB / h/t @BasketballOnX ) pic.twitter.com/9Hrb3JjzeZ
Getting back to the Raptors, the 10-day trip hasn’t been all positives despite the improved road record. Jakob Poeltl went down against Golden State and hasn’t played since, meanwhile Pascal Siakam missed last game against the Clippers. Siakam remains listed as questionable tonight, and his availability will be significant against a front court consisting of Lauri Markkanen and John Collins.
In better Raptors news, Immanuel Quickley and RJ Barrett have been just what the doctor ordered in Toronto. The pair have fit in seamlessly and have rapidly improved the Raptors offence to top-10 in the NBA in the games since their acquisition.
Combine a newly improved Raptors offence with the Jazz’s bottom-1o defence, and we have the potential makings of another 120+ point outing from Toronto. Hopefully this time if they get a large lead, they can hold onto it.
How to Watch:
Sportsnet at 9:30 p.m. ET
Toronto: Immanuel Quickley, Scottie Barnes, RJ Barrett, Pascal Siakam, Thaddeus Young
Utah: Kris Dunn, Collin Sexton, Simone Fontecchio, Lauri Markkanen, John Collins
Toronto: Christian Koloko (out - respiratory), Otto Porter Jr. (doubtful - knee), Jakob Poeltl (out - ankle), Pascal Siakam (questionable - back)