The Utah Jazz and Toronto Raptors dance at Amalie Arena on Friday night in Tampa Bay. The Raptors can’t play in Toronto because of government orders in Canada, so they found a temporary home in Florida. Who knows if this goes into next season. Everything is on a day-to-day basis during the pandemic, but if the vaccine rollout goes effectively and hospitalizations plummet, then it’s hard to see the Raptors not going back home to Toronto. The Raptors have been playing like a team this season that doesn’t have a home.
They’ve just generally been inconsistent with no flow. The Raptors go into Friday night with a record of 17-23. This doesn’t look like a playoff team, and they showed no interest in accepting a trade for Andre Drummond. The Cleveland Cavaliers approached Toronto about a deal to send Norman Powell to Ohio for Drummond. If I’m the Raptors, there is no way I would entertain that offer. There have reportedly been other offers on the table, though only the trade for Drummond was revealed publicly.
Powell has been one of the brightest spots for the Raptors this season. Trading him for a temporary piece in Drummond would be foolish. Yes, the Raptors need center help to replace Aron Baynes, but even if they trade for an upgrade for Baynes, they’re not a contender in the Eastern Conference. I would want something geared more towards the future for Powell if I’m the Raptors.
Powell is coming off a big 43-point performance in a loss against the lowly Detroit Pistons, 116-112. That might be the lowest point of the Raptors in the 2020-21 season. They don’t have an easy assignment against the 29-11 Utah Jazz tonight. The Jazz are coming off an ugly loss of their own, maybe the ugliest of the season against the Wizards in Washington, 131-122.
So, the Raptors can’t depend on the Jazz having a letdown spot on Friday night. Regression isn’t possible following that performance against the Wizards. They’ve been okay since returning from the break, with two wins and two losses. The win over the Boston Celtics on Tuesday, 117-109, was a good look, but the Jazz haven’t looked too hot after the All-Star break. Head below for our free Jazz vs. Raptors pick on March 19, 2021.
Utah Jazz vs. Toronto Raptors NBA Betting Odds:
Jazz vs. Raptors Prediction:
The Jazz have a win over the Houston Rockets, 114-99, and Boston Celtics, 117-109, since returning from the break. A 15-point win over the Rockets is not something to get too excited over, though their effort against the Celtics was in good form. Every team hits a bit of a bump in the road during a long season.
Their loss against the Wizards is not an accurate barometer to judge this team. Utah is third in the NBA with 116.8 points scored per game. That might be the most underrated aspect of their game. The defense gets plenty of hype, but their offensive stroke is better than advertised. I think the reason is pretty easy. The Jazz don’t exactly have a “superstar” on their roster, though the argument could be made that Donovan Mitchell is the most underrated player in the NBA.
Rudy Gobert is known for his defense, but doesn’t get enough credit for his ability on the other end of the floor as well. Gobert is scoring an average of 14.3 points and 13.4 rebounds per game. The offense has been playing well recently despite their mediocre return to play. Utah has netted an average of 119 points per game through their previous five outings. The defense is what has been out of sync.
They’ve allowed 120.2 points per game during that same stretch. Overall, this is the fifth best defense in the league. The Jazz have conceded 108.8 points per game. The Raptors’ defense has been well out of form recently as well. I don’t have the same confidence in the Raptors bouncing back and figuring it out, though. They’ve allowed 120.2 points per game in their last five games, the same as the Jazz. Overall, the Raptors are 17th defensively and 16th offensively with 112.5 points per game.
Holding them back has been the inconsistent effort of Pascal Siakam. He’s not earning his pay this year, let’s put it that way. This number looks short on a Jazz team that I believe will come back with a much better effort defensively tonight. Don’t expect many easy baskets for the Raptors. They are likely going to have to earn every point on the board. This might have been a better spot for Toronto if the Jazz weren’t coming off their worst loss of the season. I like the Jazz by around 8 or 10 points in Tampa.