Following the loss to the Denver Nuggets, the Utah Jazz are looking to bounce back in a difficult game against the top team in the Eastern Conference, the Toronto Raptors. Sitting at 4-5, the Jazz need to turn things around to avoid slipping too far this early in the season. With the bloodbath of the Western Conference, Utah needs every win they can get. These will be the stretches we look back on in April.
Toronto is currently on the latter end of a road trip back-to-back series. Fatigue may be a problem for the Raptors. However, Kawhi Leonard is a game-time decision, listed as probably for tonight’s game. Kawhi sat out in yesterday’s game against the Lakers, so he will be fresh if he does play tonight.
As a scrappy Eastern Conference team, this will be yet another early-season challenge for the Utah Jazz.
When: Monday, Nov. 5, 2018 — 7:00PM MST
Where: Vivint Smart Home Arena — Salt Lake City, UT
TV: AT&T SportsNet, NBA League Pass
Radio: 1280 AM/97.5 FM The Zone
Without Donovan Mitchell, we will need added offensive punch from our other players, especially from the french center Rudy Gobert. Rudy will face off against Lithuanian Jonas Valanciunas, who has been an underrated part of Toronto’s success in recent years. Rudy’s pick and roll play will be crucial tonight. Getting his teammates open, and his extreme gravity created by dives to the hoop will be even more important tonight than they usually are. Rudy may not drop 30 tonight, but his impact on the offensive end will largely dictate whether the Jazz will be able to generate good shots or not within coach Quin Snyder’s offense.
More than their offense, Utah’s defense will be imperative in tonight’s match. The team needs to regain focus in the backcourt. Perimeter defense in particular has been porous compared to what is has been in the past. The Jazz must re-establish their grinding defensive identity to see continuous success this year. Rudy Gobert has a huge burden on his shoulders. Ricky Rubio, Joe Ingles, Derrick Favors, Dante Exum and others will all need to step up to help carry this load. Defense is a team sport, and even the defensive player of the year cannot cover for everybody.
In the east, Toronto has been on a tear. Their only loss came at the hands of the Milwaukee Bucks, who have been impressive early on. Utah will need to come together and have an impressive game in order to pull this one out. The strength of the team is the team, and when it comes down to it, multiple players will need to be on fire for Utah to find victory. Having yet to win a home game thus far, will this game mark a turning point in the season for the Jazz?