Well, here we are.
We had to know it was gonna come eventually, didn’t we? The losing that is. I’m talking about the L-O-S-I-N-G.
I was extremely optimistic about this team – still am, perhaps, irrationally so. So, it’s hard for me to process this downturn, especially when it feels like we’re so close.
You look at our top six and each seems to be reaching, or nearing, a next level, but then fail to sustain it or do it simultaneously.
Regardless of that, we’re going NO WHERE with the junk defence and impotent defensive rebounding of late.
There’s excuses if you care for that sort of thing. Injuries mounting. Fatigues at play (I talked about the too many minutes problem yesterday as did Eric Koreen of The Athletic). Fitting Prince Pascal back into the schema isn’t easy. Being tiny exacerbates all of it.
But, you know what? Look around the league, Utah included, and few have their shit together. Memphis, Cleveland, Charlotte, New York, and Miami have all had the fates of regression curse them. Boston, Atlanta, and Milwaukee all look shaky – even Brooklyn, after getting shellacked by the Warriors’, look old and shallow.
Plenty of time for our boys to replenish and rejuvenate.
If the Raptors are a bathtub experiment then the Utah Jazz are a $25 bottle of pinot noir.
If we’re them:
Then the Jazz are them:
If we’re My Band.
Then they are Big Band.
I could do this forever because it’s hilarious to me.
You get the point, though, I assume. The Raptors are zany, positionless, unique, uncertain. The Jazz are severe, positional, exact, constant.
While you couldn’t distinguish forward from centre in the Raptors starting lineup, the Jazz have a very distinct and traditional regiment: battle-hardened point guard, supernova shooting guard, sweet-stroking small forward, mercenary power forward, and shot-gobbling centre.
Utah has been a top-tier NBA team for a while now. Last year, they finished 52-20, mulching the field. That was until they blew it against a Kawhi-less Clippers in the Playoffs.
They’ve re-upped. Everyone’s back and they’ve built a better bench. Utah has ONE objective this year and it has nothing to do with regular-season standings. Western Conference Finals or bust.
What’s scary, is they’re not yet playing at their full potential – I don’t think. As of Wednesday, they lead the league in offensive rating – and are 2nd in net rating – but have hit 3 less 3s a game, are 25th in 3-point percentage, play a slower pace, score less, and play worse defence than they did in 2020-21.
Utah’s free throw success keeps them lethal. They make the most in the league and get to the line 4 more times per game than Toronto. They put it all together and that WCF’s right in target.
Toronto’s defence has been total crud. In their last 5 games (1-4), they’re last in defensive rating and rebounding. Horrid. Abysmal. Inexcusable. Their offensive rating, on the other hand, in that same stretch: 5th. Welcome back, Pascal.
Utah’s unforgiving and a dominant defensive rebounding team. Their troubles come when teams spread them out and pull Rudy Gobert out of his lair. Harder to do when you’re 25th in 3-pointers made per game. Regardless, if the Raptors scoop out another bowl of crapola on D without any of that offensive rebounding salt and pepper, we’re in for another unappetizing midnight affair.
Also, eek, if we’re OG-less.
OG Anunoby banged his hip in practice today and is questionable for tomorrow's game in Utah. Precious Achiuwa and Chris Boucher are also questionable, while Yuta Watanabe remains out.
— (((Eric Koreen))) (@ekoreen) November 17, 2021
Tip-off: 9:00pm EDT | TV: SN1, SportsNet RM, Sportsnet | Radio: TSN 1050
Yuta Watanabe (calf) is out. OG (hip), Precious Achiuwa (shoulder), and Chris Boucher (back) are questionable.
PG: Fred VanVleet, Dalano Banton, Malachi Flynn
SG: Gary Trent Jr., Svi Mykhailiuk, [the Ghost of] Goran Dragić
SF: Svi Mykhailiuk
PF: Scottie Barnes, Chris Boucher
C: Pascal Siakam, Precious Achiuwa
PG: Mike Conley, Jordan Clarkson, Trent Forrest
SG: Donovan Mitchell, Joe Ingles, Miye Oni, Jared Butler
SF: Bojan Bogdanović, Rudy Gay, Elijah Hughes,
PF: Royce O’Neal, Eric Paschall, Malik Fitts
C: Steiffel Tower, Hassan Whiteside, Udoka Azubuike
Spread: Toronto +9
Moneyline: Nothing available at time of writing.
Adon’s Wisdom: I think Utah wins. If OG plays, I’d tease this one up a bit to get Toronto at 12; if he’s out BAIL. I feel a slog of a game coming.
Conclusion: Toronto (with added points)/Utah/Under
Gameday: Raptors @ Jazz, November 18 originated on Raptors Republic.