The frustrated Raps need a pushover game to spike their confidence, but this opponent doesn’t qualify. The Jazz, 3-4 on the young season to date, are another in a seemingly endless stream of quality Western Conference squads. The only major sports team in Salt Lake City is lead by a formidable frontline of Enes Kanter, Paul Millsap, Al Jefferson, & Derrick Favors. Lots of credible pundits believe the Jazz will trade one of these youthful & accomplished bigs for help in the backcourt. While that argument has merit, if I were Jazz GM Kevin O’Connor, I wouldn’t be piling up big phone bills. I’d rather ask my coach to monitor the large men’s minutes, & keep them fresh & injury-free. Besides, there are very few “big for small” swaps in the NBA.
The Jazz guards don’t scare anyone. Jamaal Tinsley will likely start at Point, with fresh-faced Gordon Hayward the Shooting Guard. Tinsley gets the call because of injury to Mo Williams, although Coach Tyrone Corbin must be apprehensive. Tinsley played 40+ minutes in a win against Phoenix, & didn’t score, but did contribute 14 assists. Hayward is an up-&-comer, who reminds me of a more versatile & aggressive Kyle Korver. The Jazz’s second unit is not a plus for them, with perennial disappointments Marvin Williams & Randy Foye most likely to be first off the bench.
For the Raps, injuries will force a less than ideal lineup to hit the floor. The unfortunate Alan Anderson is gone for some time after hurting his foot against Philly, & Kyle Lowry’s ankle is stubbornly resisting rehabilitation. While Jose Calderon is certainly competent at PG, the naming of Dominic McGuire as the starting Small Forward will be a shock to Raps’ fans. Watch for Linas Kleiza to get a serious chance to regain his slot in the rotation if McGuire is overmatched. John Lucas can’t continue to shoot as badly as he has, can he? [20-second timeout: Jerryd Bayless is playing well - for Memphis! What a mistake it was to let him go.] Bargnani will need to lead the scoring, with DeMar close behind, & Jonas Valanciunas will have to stay out of foul trouble.
The Raps have 2 things in their favour; the Jazz are winless on the road, & they don’t score a lot. If the lineup patching & bailing can somehow work, & our offense doesn’t capsize like it did against Philly, a win is there to be had. Let’s go with 95-91 Raps.
Brian Boake is a staff writer for Raptors Rapture. “Like” Raptors Rapture on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @RaptorsRapture for all the latest news and updates about the best damn NBA team from Canada.