Photo Credit: Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports
The Toronto Raptors are back home in Tampa Bay tonight to face the number one team in the NBA — the Utah Jazz.
Most of the Raptors who were absent from team activities due to COVID-19 health and safety protocols were back in the lineup as of Wednesday night’s loss to the Detroit Pistons. OG Anunoby was the one Toronto player still listed on the protocol but was taken off the injury report yesterday evening.
The Raptors are facing an uphill climb, sitting at 17-23. Toronto has lost their last six games, of which two of them were at home.
The team was in a playoff spot ahead of the NBA All-Star break but now sit three places out at 11th in the eastern conference.
The Jazz have been hot and cold recently, winning just two of their last six games since March 1st. Utah lost to the Washington Wizards last night, 131-122, but the Jazz are still no team the Raptors should play with though, as they are 13-9 on the road while Toronto is 8-9 at home.
Toronto will need to find a way to slow down Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert.
Mike Conley is listed as day-to-day with a right hamstring injury. The Jazz’s injury report says that he was ruled out for “injury management” before last night’s contest against the Wizards.
Utah’s Udoka Azubuike (ankle) remains out until further notice.
If anything, the Raptors have to dominate at the boards on the offensive side of the ball. The Jazz average 38.3 defensive rebounds per win and 32.9 defensive rebounds per loss.
There is a stark difference between those two numbers, and if Toronto wants to pull off the upset win, they have to exploit that, keep Gobert grounded and win at the boards.
Tip-off in Tampa Bay is set for 8 p.m. EST.