Writing this pre-game on Sunday night and at this point Kyle Lowry’s status for tomorrow’s game is uncertain, but sounds doubtful. Both Fields and Anderson will not dress as well, which leaves us stretched pretty thin at the 3, but we haven’t exactly been getting a lot out of anyone at that position so far this season. McGuire is going to get the start, and maybe Kleiza can use the extra minutes allotted to get his offensive game going after his layoff. If we can get Kleiza going sooner rather than later it’ll pay big dividends – right now we’re exceedingly short on scoring punch off the bench even at full strength, and he’s the one player outside of the starting 5 (besides Jose) who can generate his own offense on a regular basis.

The Utah Jazz make their way into town Monday night sporting a 3-4 record on the season, with the wins coming against a depleted Dallas (who admittedly has been playing well regardless), the lightly regarded Phoenix Suns, and the who-the-hell-knows Lakers. Yes, this was a playoff team last year, but it’s not much of a stretch to say that this was one of the games the Raps circled on their calendar when they were looking at that really tough 21 game stretch to start the season and said “we need the win here.”

This urgency should be even more present given the Raptors’ 1-5 start to the year, but to say effort has been inconsistent this year is an understatement at best, so I won’t go that far. Needless to say, this is a key game for the Raptors with road games at Indiana and Boston looming.

Positional Breakdown

Guard: Jose Calderon (starter), John Lucas and Kyle Lowry (injured) vs. Jamaal Tinsley (starter), Randy Foye, Alec Burks, Kevin Murphy, Mo Williams (injured – questionable), and Earl Watson (injured – out)

Advantage: Raptors

Obviously this list is subject to change given the amount of injuries on it. Both team’s starting point guards are injured and are key players for their respective teams. Mo Williams didn’t play for Utah in their Saturday game against the Suns and so I’m assuming he won’t play tonight, though the team hasn’t made any overtures in either direction yet. As for the players who are playing Monday night, I’m giving the advantage to the Raptors here primarily because of Jose, who’s the best “guard” on either team for the purposes of this exercise.

Jamaal Tinsley is primarily a distributor at this point in his career and began the season as the Jazz’s third option. He’s been known as a strong defender throughout his career, but is on the south side of his playing days, and Jose should be able to find openings for his perimeter shooting and distributive game. Tinsley’s offensive role this season has been limited to more or less facilitating for Utah’s stronger scoring options, and though he has been effective in that role (14 assists against the Suns Saturday), this reduced tendency to shoot or slash should minimize Jose’s defensive deficiencies at the position.

Randy Foye obviously has the ability to score in spurts and is a very good defender – he should be a good test for DeMar off the bench as a 2-guard and is in some ways a more problematic matchup for Jose at the 1, though it does seem like the Jazz prefer Tinsley to start. Lucas is a lottery ticket at this point, nothing more, nothing less. Hopefully sooner rather than later he can put together a strong offensive game and prove his value to the team.

Wings: DeMar DeRozan, Dominic McGuire (starters), Linas Kleiza, and Terrence Ross vs. Gordon Hayward, Marvin Williams (starters), DeMarre Carroll, and Jeremy Evans

Slight Advantage: Jazz

Again, looking at these matchups, it seems the Raptors have the superior player of the group in DeRozan, however, my giving the Jazz the advantage is largely due to our depleted 3 spot going up against Marvin Williams, who has been solid (if unspectacular) this season while putting up big minutes for Utah. The Jazz use a far more traditional NBA rotation (9 players or so, with the starters all playing 30-40 minutes) and so Williams should stay on the floor  for a good chunk of the game, assuming he avoids foul trouble, which he should with the offensively-limited McGuire starting opposite him. McGuire is a decent defender but Williams is more of an athletic stretch 4 than a small forward and so McGuire will have to work hard to stand his ground. Carroll and Evans are depth players and will only be out for garbage time minutes.

What the Raptors get from Ross and Kleiza on the offensive end is going to be crucial in keeping the Raptors in the game – the bench scoring was non existant on Saturday and that can’t happen today, especially with Utah having a depleted bench with little scoring punch at the guards/wings after Foye. Hayward will be a great test for DeMar on both ends – he’s developed into a very big, strong 2-guard that is great at getting into the lane and picking up fouls, which could be an issue given the Raptors’ lack of depth at the wings.

This is the kind of matchup DeMar should look at as a statement game – a perhaps less-heralded player who has the potential to stymie his game on both ends and bring the haters back out of the woodwork. Hopefully he’ll respond as his ability to get into the post (and to the line) will be key to combat Utah’s revolving door of top-tier big men.

Bigs: Andrea Bargnani, Jonas Valanciunas (starters), Amir Johnson, Ed Davis and Quincy Acy vs. Paul Millsap, Al Jefferson (starters), Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter

Advantage: Jazz

The Jazz have enviable frontcourt depth and multiple looks to throw at the Raps at this end – with the undersized Millsap and Jefferson starting and the more traditional Favors and Kanter coming off the bench. This team’s strengths are in its rotation of bigs and the Raptors are going to be hard-pressed to combat it, particularly Jefferson’s physicality in the post and Kanter’s size. They’ll have to work very hard to stay even in the rebound battle – the bigs can not take a quarter off in this one.

The Raptors desperately need Andrea to come through with a strong offensive game in this one – Millsap is an excellent defender but is undersized and should have difficulty defending Andrea’s mid-range game in particular. If he can get his shot going he can pull his defender away from the basket, opening lanes for slashers like DeRozan, Johnson, and even Val, who are going to have to bang with Utah’s bigs in the post otherwise, a losing proposition for Toronto. Jonas is going to be in tough tonight – this is the kind of matchup where his lack of strength is going to hurt him, though I am intrigued to see him match up against Kanter, who went 2 picks before him in the 2012 draft. This game has “Jonas foul trouble” written all over it, but I really hope Casey sticks to his guns and allows him to play through some of it, as that’s the only way he’s going to learn to deal with the bigs of the ‘Association. Utah is a great litmus test for any young big, and I’m excited to see how Jonas responds to the challenge.

Amir and ED, in whatever combination they’re employed (seems like it’s been mostly Amir lately) will need to work their butts off fighting through Utah’s physical front line. If they can hold serve with Favors and Kanter off the bench, this game is a lot more winnable for Toronto.

Line for the game is currently unavailable, I’m assuming due to the up-in-the-air status of both team’s starting point guards. Therefore, I’ll play it safe with my prediction.

Williams but no Lowry – Jazz win.
Lowry but no Williams (dare to dream!) – Raptors win.
Neither player plays (most likely) – Jazz by 3 by superior frontcourt depth.

This picks section has been a bit of a reverse jinx for Toronto the last few games, let’s hope it works the same the other way. Tip-off at 7:00PM EST on Sportsnet One.

Follow @GarrettHinchey

  • AB7.38pt.on.CB4

    9  man rotation

    Calderon 42 min
    Ross 25 min
    DD 40 min
    Bargnani 40 min
    Valanciunas 30 min
    ———————-
    Lucas 6 min
    Kleiza 15 min
    Mcguire 16 min
    Amir J 26 min

    • Sheptor

       I agree. McGuire should be on the bench and barely see the floor. I don’t care about two rookies starting we’re 1-5 ffs. Ross should get the start today and move DD who has been pretty solid by Demar standards to the 3 on Marvin. It’s Marvin Williams who matches up pretty well with DD physically, not some freak scorer like Durant, or Gay.

      Must win at home. 2-5 with the possibility of Lowry returning after this is much better for the psyche then a glaring 1 win campaign up til now. They beat them last year with an inferior squad in perhaps the best game of the season. It’s the team that Kleiza went off on too, and hopefully he returns to some form today. We need Kleiza. Not just to give us production until our other 3’s are healthy but for the full season. IMO Kleiza CAN be the best player out of those 3 and should be given a look. McGuire scares the shit out of me.

      • unknown guest

        Agreed. Injuries suck, but getting throwing TRoss and Val out there is a positive learning experience.

  • sleepz

    This Utah team will be tough to beat tonight. Jefferson, Milsap and Hayward will be problems.

    Looking back at the offseason but it would have been comic and tragic watching Nash lead this Raptor team.

    Colangelo says he has a plan. lol. He wouldn’t have made it to mid-season with “his plan” if Nash had taken his $36 million. 

    • pran

      Im not so sure anymore, say nash stayed healthy. With his elite pick and roll game he would have made valanciunas,bargnani, and ross all look good…..It’s not a contender or even a second round playoff team, but it would be a hell of a lot better than what we are seeing now.   

      That being said, I am satisfied with the core moving forward. Lowry, Jv, and derozan, maybe ED. They are young and are more to build upon than nash running the show….

      • unknown guest

        How good would Calderon and Bargs look in LA right now under D’Antoni?

        • Destro

          They’d both come off the bench so fine…

          • unknown guest

            Of course they would. I meant the system. All out offense, dribbling PG play, no defense…

      • sleepz

        Starting line-up of Nash, DeRozan, Fields, Bargnani and JV.

        Defensive team and culture! LOL

        No plan. Mix and match and hope for the best.

    • Destro

      Id love to see a trade involving Bargnani where we get one of those Utah bigs coming back preferably Millsap…

      • sleepz

        That deal will never happen.

        I don’t think Utah would even consider it, although he is a FA next year.

      • ibleedpurple

        Not a bad idea, however, I’d much rather trade for Kanter. He only sees limited action due to the stockade of bigs currenly on Utah’s payroll but he is an absolute beast. With him and JV the Raps would have a formidable inside presence.

        • Nilanka15

          Aren’t Kanter and Jonas essentially the same player (back-to-the basket, rebounding, shot blocking, hustle guys with little offensive repertoire)? 

          I think their games might be too similar to play alongside each other.

          • mountio

            Agree – dont need Kanter. Id take pretty much anyone else on their frontline though, thats for sure ..

  • mountio

    Well … time to see what T Ross has got. Unfortunate that it had to take two injuries for him to actually get some PT – but one way or the other, we will see what he can do.
    I actually like him with the starting lineup better than the 2nd unit, because he can act more like a spot up shooter and doesnt have to force his offense (which he has to do on the 2nd unit since hes the only guy who can somewhat create his own shot).
    Lets hope for a better effort than we have been getting …

    • unknown guest

      I hope he starts, might be Kleiza who start though.

    • Nilanka15

      Yup.  Ross playing 25+ minutes per night (once the rookie rust is shaken off) couldn’t possibly be any worse than what we’re getting from Fields.

      Is Marvin Williams really that much of a threat that we need McGuire to shut him down?

      Start Ross (not McGuire).

      • p00ka

        The same Williams that’s 3 inches taller and has 35 more pounds of “man” strength over the kid? That would make life easy for the Jazz tonight.

        • Nilanka15

          Yup, that very same Williams who’s never been known to use his size to his advantage (and is likely the 4th option in Utah’s starting unit slightly ahead of Tinsley).

          • sleepz

            They would most likely look to take advantage of that match-up. Williams still has a distinct size and height advantage over Terrence.

            • Nilanka15

              Corbin running plays specifically for Williams?  I’ll believe it when I see it 😉

              • mountio

                Agree. Lets wait and see when anyone abuses T Ross in the post before we get all worried about the mismatches. We played crunch time minutes with JC at the 2 in the first few games. Youre telling me Jose, whose tiny (and cant play D anyways) is gonna get abused any less than Ross?

                • p00ka

                  No need to worry, because that match-up is not going to happen. Some of Casey’s moves may be questionable, but I’m convinced he isn’t outright stupid.

                • mountio

                  Hes proven he (or the organization) is stupid by drafting T Ross # 8 in a loaded draft and then not playing him. Hes also shown hes stupid in shifting his players like a hockey team (5 on, 5 off!). This, unlike those moves, would show he has some foresight

                • p00ka

                  Ross, even counting 0 minutes in 1 game, has played the exact number of minutes Kobe played in his first 6 games in the NBA.

                  Those stupid Lakers just ruined his career by not starting him in those games. Imagine how good Kobe would have been if he started more than 6 games and averaged more than 15 minutes his entire first season! Imagine if those Lakers weren’t so stupid.

                   

                • sleepz

                  Kobe came out of high school. Terrence has 2 years of college ball under his belt.

                • mountio

                  Exactly. HUGE difference. Plus, the Lakers were a lot better Kobe’s rookie year than the Raps are. Why not look at all the other rookies in the league this year and last .. instead, point to one example from 17 years ago ..

                • p00ka

                  So…..

                  LeBron came out of high school too: Lakers are stupid, right!

                  Ross has skills that the Raps want/need, but he’s a skinny 20 yr old, and 6 games into his NBA career is no time to throw him in against a 7 yr vet who is 3 inches taller and 35 lbs heavier.

                • Nilanka15

                  You’re comparing a championship calibre, 56-win, Lakers squad to this year’s Raptors team.

                  One team couldn’t afford to have a rookie learn through his mistakes, while the other team most certainly can.

                • p00ka

                  Yeah, you guys are right. The answer to fixing the poor defensive starts is to put a second rookie out there to do battle with a guy who’s 3 inches taller, 35 lbs heavier, with 7 yrs of experience. Sorry, my bad.

                • what the

                  easy on the pook

                • what the

                  pook you are slipping

  • Destro

    Jazz will have 50+ points in the paint tonight….Jefferson,Millsap are gonna eat up our front court…

    Raptors 91
    Jazz    103

  • voy

    if derozan wants to be a boss he needs to make life miserable for guys like hayward.

    • Destro

      and if Bargnani wants to be an all star (LAFF) and be taken seriously as a big man and not laughed at around the league for his downy fresh softness MAYBE he can attempt to defend undersized bigs and not let them continually clown his ass in the paint…

      • voy

        dude, I’m not hating on dd.  just stating a fact.  a guy who is supposed to be, or has aspirations  of being, one of the more athletic guys in the league should eat up hayward, no?  I hope demar does tonight and every night he faces dudes less athletic and weaker than he is.

        has nothing to do with bargs or any other player on the roster.  if you want to make a point about andrea feel free to do so. you dont need to piggyback on my comment.  if you want to defend dd, basically saying “yeah but this other guy is not playing well” is not a good defence in support of demar, in my opinion.

        • Destro

          I dont mind the hate breh i dont have a horse in this race…If the hate is warranted we cool….He was average at best against Philly and missed alot of open shots….im a raptors fan not a player first fan…

          • RaptorFan

            Honestly, we need to stop blaming the players…..

            Tribal Honking Fans UNITE….. chant fire Bryan!!!….

            Lets get it done…..i have no faith in him…..thank you for Lowry!  But BC needs to go so we can figure out the following (Bryan C is very reluctant to address these issues):

            1) what to do with Andrea? (Everyone aside from fanboys know he would NOT be starting on a championship calibre team – I think he can be very good off the bench as a 6th man or just trade him)

            2) a new GM will receive the patience to do an actual build….Ross needs playing time, JV needs playing time, ED needs playing time.  We know we will go nowhere unless they develop into serviceable players

            3) Amir Johnson and Calderon have to go…..they should be used in a trade to hopefully recoup a pick or two and for salary reasons

            4) and probably most importantly we need to get that good SF that we know we need…..someone who can bring 15,5 and 5 to the game every night…..someone who can hit a 3 – open up the floor for DD, Lowry and even AB….someone who defences have to respect!….. Maybe a new GM will have better luck??

          • voy

            well said.  i am a team first guy as well.  i realize its unfair to highlight one game and say “if DD doesn’t smoke his man today he is not progressing blah, blah blah” as long as the he is learning and taking advantage of his physical advantages more often than not.  today, I think, he definately has an athletic edge over hayward.  I’d like the raps to recognize and take advantage of that mismatch.  hayward is a smart player though so it should be interesting to watch.

            this one game wont prove or disprove anything for dd, but I’ll still be cheering for him to play well within the team concept.

  • Skeet

    They should give away free paper bags to the first 19,000 attendees

    • ben

      LMAO!!!! that’s the funniest shit i’ve read in a while! 

  • ad

    Lowry not playing tonight. Probably wont play till Saturday Im guessing. This team is so fucked w/o him. Armstrong was on the fan saying that this team is deep yet also made the comment that casey shouldnt have all 5 guys on the second unit on the floor at the same time. Am I missing something? Deep team mean players 1-9 can step up and produce. This team is not deep and is simply corporate spin by BC and Co. to sell tickets
    about this team being competitive. Half the guys on this roster shouldnt even be in the nba. The other half are bench players of varying degrees with the exception of JV and lowry.

    • sleepz

      In the off-season much was made of the Raptors depth.

      Lowry being hurt definitely is a loss for the team but with the ‘added depth’ you would think that they should still be able to compete.

      • The Truth

        Exactly, particularly given the organization thought the guy who is backing him up was good enough to be a starter previously. Biggest issue is inconsistent effort as always with the Raptors.

    • Copywryter

      JV sees limited minutes on most teams.

  • RaptorFan

    *re-post*

    BC gives away one of our better defensive players last year (especially in weak side help) in James Johnson wouldn’t you expect us to regress defensively??

    Wouldnt you prefer to keep Jarryd Bayless (who’s playing really well as a backup for Memphis) over John Lucas (who’s clearly a downgrade)??

    Our defence is worse partially because we lost some pretty decent/good defensive players at their positions….

    Is Landry Fields an upgrade over JJ offensively?? He certainly ISNT an upgrade defensively in my opinion….. Is he even a true SF? I would argue that he lacks the size and blocks JJ brought to the SF position for our team. Yet BC threw 18 mil at him….. it just doesnt make sense…..we’re in our situation because we have a GM who’s playing fantasy basketball without going for real ballers…. he’s looking for scrubs to fill starting positions….year after year…..

    Why didnt he retain Shawn Marion instead of paying Hedo Bum Turkglu???? I still dont get his decisions….. you want to go to the playoffs (he states that as his goal) yet he picks Ross over the chance to get a dominant big man to go along side JV…..

    Why do we still have Amir and Ed??? lol he’s a joke of a GM….no moves with purpose….6-7 years with nothing to show for it

    THANK GOD – I can almost hear the fat lady singing….. lets see what Ed Stefanski can do!

    • The Truth

      Bayless wouldn’t have stuck around to be a 3rd string option so the comparison with Lucas is hardly apt.

      • RaptorFan

        trade calderon (expiring contract)….there you go….new spot opened up!

        • The Truth

          Sure, but then the conversation is who is a better backup PG out of Jose and Bayless. You brought Lucas into it to make a more flattering (but ridiculous) comparison for Bayless.

          • RaptorFan

            Dude i dont even understand your point….. I think my point was really clear….BC SUCKS!  Horrible roster decisions….. change your forum title name to The Spin! 

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_XHJKFMCGSMBEQGBRKJVLKUGSEQ john g

      Why are you bringing up Shawn Marion for? That was like 3-4 years ago. He didn’t even want to stay here in the first place.
      And you said Drummond has a chance to be a dominant big man, well Ross still has a chance to be a quality swingman. You have seen 6 games and the book is already written?
      And James Johnson sucks, why are you talking about him as some defensive savior?

  • wtfraps

    raps lose tonight. wont have legs for tomorrow. sad times. fire bc. 

  • WJF

    FML

  • FAQ

    Forget about ‘winning’, and just assume the Raps will lose.   What ‘development’ strategy should Casey be following to achieve Jell-O …???

    • p00ka

      “development” is obviously your newest lure, and here you are combining it with the previous one :”Jell-O”

      *shaking my head that someone with obvious grey matter, and knowledge of the game, would get some charge out of posting these dumbass little lures every day*

  • KaioKev

    When are the players going to understand that it will take 48 minutes of effort to win games? Not 36 minutes.

    • RaptorFan

      When we have a new GM that can bring us SOME talent and players who play hard

  • Dan

    Can someone look up and see how many missed shots and turnovers Calderon has in the 4th quarters of games. His play seems to drop off when raps hold a lead in the 4th. Even with spain you never see him close games. Him and Derozan wasted great games with some terrible 4th quarter turnovers

  • KJ-B

    Honestly, these refs need to get checked for drugs at the border–this is B-A-N-A-N-A-S….. steupse!

  • Statement

    Bargnani is fucking useless.

    Fucking useless overpaid piece of shit.  He brings nothing.

    This team fucking sucks, I am boycotting the games going forward.

    • Blasterfi9

      K…. bye

    • Statement

      Okay,

      I’ve calmed down now.  Tough loss, but they didn’t have the horses to win this game. I won’t stop watching because I’m a sado-masocist who enjoys pain. 

      However, Bargs needs to go.  Amnesty his $10 million, let Jose expire and get a freaking small forward already.

      After 6 years, this team still lacks talent.  That is B.C.’s fault.  Bargs is his number one mistake, he needs to rectify it. 

    • what the

      a disgruntle fan boy

  • Blasterfi9

    Annoyed Gray got the call over Jonas (and even Ed), i get that covering Al is a hard thing to do and gray might be able to not be pushed around, but his presence didnt seem to add much defensively and atleast with jonas ull get something more than competent offensively. I dont understand the lack of playing time he’s getting he’s playing fine, and given more time can put up some impressive number , fouls allowing

  • ckh26

    That was tough. My summer optimism has now turned to pessimism. Down the stretch it was the same lineup as last year and the same result. No Ross. No JV and no Lowry due to injury. They had chances to win it in regulation and in the 2nd OT and coughed up hairballs. At present they are JUST NOT GOOD ENOUGH.

  • cdub

    The game should have never went to OT.  They coughed up another 10pt lead.  They could have redeemed themselves by holding onto the win after derozans dunk but alas…

  • Me

    BC will be nervous, Time to blow things up if he wants to save his arse.

  • what the

    My question to the fan boys, is AB13 back or should we wait another 10 more games