The Raptors meet the Jazz in what promises to be a low-scoring affair. Can Toronto’s boiling-hot offense click against Utah’s impressive defense?
The Toronto Raptors begin their six-game road trip with a stop in Utah. The Jazz, proud owners of sports’ most inappropriate team name (is there a less jazzy City on the planet than Salt Lake?) are enjoying a playoff-worthy season. They are overdue, having missed the post-season five of the last six campaigns.
The team has been built carefully and to last. They found an excellent defensive center, Rudy Gobert, late in the draft. He leads the NBA in blocked shots at 2.7 per game [PG], and averages a double-double in points and rebounds. The Jazz’ top scorer at 22 points PG is Gordon Hayward, who is a tribute to the virtues of sound technique. Watch this guy – he moves economically but with surprising speed based on a quick first step, shoots gracefully, moves the ball with purpose – and you’ll see someone to emulate.
Joining Gobert to wave the French flag is Boris Diaw. When he first came into the NBA, I wondered why anyone would use a first-round draft pick on him. He’s passed the 1,000-game mark recently, so I was seriously wrong. Boris is smart enough to play any position; he’s a less athletic Draymond Green.
Joe Inglis is an Australian who’s become this season’s Kyle Korver. He’s draining long balls at a 47.6% rate.
The final starter is Shelvin Mack, who, like Hayward, played college ball at Butler, which has an enrollment under 4, 900.
Three internationals, and two guys from Butler. Sure.