Toronto at Utah
Time: 8 PM CST (NBA LP)
Spread: UTA -5.5
Odds c/o 5dimes
The Toronto Raptors enter as winners of its last three overall as it travels to face the Utah Jazz. Toronto is 22-9 on the road this season while Utah is 21-9 at home. The Jazz is 5.5-point favorites in the game, which will air at 8 PM (CST) on NBA League Pass. The betting total is set at 225 points according to pro basketball oddsmakers at bookmaker 5dimes.
The Toronto Raptors are 45-18 and won 118-113 over the Sacramento Kings last outing. Pascal Siakam has been on fire. Siakam has stepped into the role occupied by last year’s Final’s MVP Kawhi Leonard and allowed the Raptors to seamlessly progress as still true contenders. Siakam is averaging 23.7 points, 7.5 rebounds, 3.4 assists and posting a PER of 19.39. Over his last 10 games, he has tallied 23.4 points, 6.9 rebounds, and 3.5 assists while shooting 49 percent from the field and 36 percent from three.
The biggest step up perhaps outside of Siakam has been the improvement of Fred VanVleet. The diminutive 2-guard has proven to be a gutsy and clutch shooter the Raptors can rely on for big scoring shares. VanVleet is the No. 3 scorer behind Siakam and Kyle Lowry, averaging 17.7 points and 6.7 assists per game while shooting 43 percent from the floor and 38.9 percent from three-point range.
Lowry is averaging 19.4 points and 7.7 assists. The Raptors have got strong play from Serge Ibaka, Norman Powell, and OG Anunoby, as well, in using its supreme depth to help overcome the loss of last year’s leader (Leonard). The Raptors still have the framework of a contending team and the defense to put a scare into any team in the league.
The Utah Jazz is 41-22 thus far this season, and following entering 2020 so hot, the Jazz struggled some. The Jazz is hoping things are starting to develop as the playoffs near. It has won five straight.
Things have been slower coming together following the addition of point guard Mike Conley, perhaps than anyone may have expected. The veteran is coming around after a horrid start to this season and now averaging 13.6 points and 4.6 assists per game. His ball-handling and offense help keep Donovan Mitchell ready to find his scoring spots, and Mitchell is blossoming into a true superstar in his third season.
“Spida” as Mitchell goes by, is averaging 24.2 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 4.4 assists per game while talking a PER just over 20. Perhaps the biggest surprise for the Jazz has been that Bojan Bogdanovic is far more than a role player, but more of a second star. This changes a lot.
Bogdanovic is averaging 20.9 points per game while shooting 41.1 percent from behind the arc on seven-plus attempts per game. His offense helps the Jazz continue to play its slow, defense-first style of basketball, of course, cued by the defense of Rudy Gobert. Gobert is averaging 14.9 points and 14.5 boards per game, but his 2.6 blocks/steals help further illustrate his importance to Utah. His rim protection is among the league’s best, and he covers the occasional blunders of Mitchell and the Jazz’s other perimeter defenders nearly flawlessly.
Also, Utah has stepped up its scoring to 109.7 per game this year, and with the way that Utah defends, that should be adequate to put together another very nice season. While few are quick to credit the Jazz in the realms of the elite and true contenders, it arguably is the strongest of the dark horse contenders in either conference. The Jazz are built on defense and with its offense shining brighter than ever, this could be the year that the darkhorse becomes the horse. Albeit, LeBron James and the L.A. Lakers will be a tough bill but Rudy Gobert’s defensive influence will become all the more important in the NBA’s postseason.