So if April showers bring May flowers, does that mean the Raptors will finally begin to blossom? More specifically OG Anunoby, Malachi Flynn, and Khem Birch continue to flourish and fascinate and while it may not result in a win every game, these three have provided somewhat of a silver lining for a season that’s all but lost. Yes, I know time may not be in favour of the team, but nonetheless, it’s still there. The outcome against the Denver Nuggets Thursday night didn’t do the Raps any favours or inch them any closer to a play-in spot, and in all honesty, that’s what they’re fighting for at this point. Speaking of, here are seeds seven through 12 as of Friday night:
Only 2.5 games behind Washington and 3.5 behind Indiana. So that’s the good news… here’s the bad news:
I mean it’s possible. But, does it have to be the third toughest schedule in the league? Then again, if there’s anything we’ve learned, it’s to never rule out Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet willing this team to a win. Plus, who’s not looking forward to seeing Kawhi vs OG this week? So there’s that. Sorry – getting ahead of myself. Let’s talk about Utah.
When a team misses two (!!) all-star guards, you need to strike them head-on. As president of the Malachi Flynn fan club (totally made-up, although I haven’t checked Twitter yet), this is a game where Flynn and Freddy need to get it going right out of the gate. Utah attempts (43.4) and makes the most threes a game (16.9). Conley (2.7) and Mitchell (3.4) account for over one-third of that so if Toronto’s perimeter D can step it up and lock it down at that end, the Jazz will be reduced to shooting midrange shots or tossing the ball into the paint and that’s just not their game.
How Much Gas in the Tank?
Utah is coming off of a deflating loss to Phoenix from Friday night and they had to reach deep in their bag with Conley and Mitchell out, in order to fill those minutes. This threw their rotation out of sorts and costed them the one seed. Now, this could go one of three ways.
- Utah sleeps off the L to Phoenix and comes out Saturday, playing with a vengeance like The Rock trying to rescue his ex-wife and daughter in San Andreas.
- Utah gets Conley and/or Mitchell back and the Jazz get back to their winning ways.
- The Raps, and the newly-incarnated Offensive Galore Anunoby, have their most efficient two-way game this season and outsmart the Jazz on their way to a W.
There are probably a multitude of other ways this could play out but I really hope number three comes to fruition.
Tip-Off: 10:00pm EDT | TV: SN1 | Radio: TSN RADIO 1050
Gary Trent Jr. (leg contusion) missed the last game and is day-to-day. Kyle Lowry is resting. Paul Watson (knee), Chris Boucher, and Jalen Harris (hip) are likely out.
PG: Malachi Flynn, De’Andre Bembry
SG: Fred VanVleet, Rodney Hood
SF: OG Anunoby, Stanley Johnson
PF: Pascal Siakam, Yuta Watanabe
C: Khem Birch, Freddie Gillespie, Aron Baynes
Utah’s coming off the first of a back-to-back and hasn’t submitted an injury report yet. Updates will come as soon as they do.
Donovan Mitchell (ankle) & Mike Conley (hamstring) are questionable. Udoka Azubuike (ankle) is also questionable.
PG: Joe Ingles, Trent Forrest, Matt Thomas
SG: Bojan Bogdanovic, Jordan Clarkson, Miye Oni
SF: Royce O’Neale, Jarrell Brantley, Elijah Hughes
PF: Georges Niang, Ersan Ilyasova, Juwan Morgan
C: Rudy Gobert, Derrick Favors
Jazz favoured at 7.5.
Over/under is 226.5.