Tonight is the second game in a four-game West Coast road trip for the Raptors and I have to be honest that I don’t think any of these games are realistically winnable. The Kings were probably the most beatable of these four teams and the Raptors are catching the Jazz just as they may have found their stride after a disappointing first couple of games. It’s hard not to be impressed by a team that can beat the Thunder in Oklahoma City by 21 points.
The Jazz present all sorts of matchup problems for the Raptors. Their bruising yet skilled frontcourt of Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap have combined for 37.6 points and 21.0 rebounds per game, Deron Williams can and probably will have his way with Jarrett Jack and Jose Calderon, and Andrei Kirilenko’s octopus arms allow him to menace his opponents on shot attempts and in the passing lanes. On the other hand, Utah will reportedly assign six-foot-seven Millsap to guard Andrea Bargnani so that’s a mismatch you can expect the Raptors to exploit.
Mehmet Okur is out indefinitely recovering from achilles surgery so Bargnani won’t be reunited with his basketball doppelganger tonight. There are no reports of any new Raptors injuries so it looks like they have a clean slate.
1. Based on the current trend, should we expect Andrea Bargnani to have 30 points and 1 rebound tonight while Reggie Evans is held scoreless and grabs 24 rebounds?
2. Who will win the battle of the boards between Evans and Millsap?
3. Can you make the case that Millsap is the best value of any NBA player on a non-rookie contract? He’s averaging 21 and 12, and he’ll get paid $7.6 million this season.
4. Do you think Gordon Hayward is on the covers of teen magazines in Utah like Justin Bieber is up in Canada? (Related note: one of the teams in my fantasy league is called “Carry On Hayward Gordon”.
5. Was anyone else disappointed that they didn’t work a “hunting for little Mexican girls” reference into this Skechers ad with Karl Malone?
Start time: 9:00 PM ET
Channel: Sportsnet ONE
Liveblog: James Borbath on theScore.com and ScoreMobile
Probable starting lineups
Toronto: Jarrett Jack, DeMar DeRozan, Linas Kleiza, Reggie Evans, Andrea Bargnani
Utah: Deron Williams, Raja Bell, Andrei Kirilenko, Paul Millsap, Al Jefferson
Your pregame song is “Unsound” by The Headstones. For some reason I was reminded yesterday of the fact that lead singer Hugh Dillon once flipped off my wife on a Brantford sidewalk for no apparent reason, so I guess he’s kind of an asshole. This is still a great song. The Raptors better run tonight if they want to save themselves.