Game Preview: Raptors vs. Jazz

Holly MacKenzie -

The Raptors are finally back in Toronto and ready to hit the Air Canada Centre floor to take on the Utah Jazz on Thursday night.

Tip-off: 7:30 P.M. ET

Broadcast Info: SN1 / SN590


Last meeting

The Raptors defeated the Jazz in Utah two weeks ago thanks to a phenomenal performance from Kyle Lowry. After Lowry left the game to receive two stitches above his lip and the Jazz took control in the third quarter, the Raptors needed a huge fourth. Lowry gave it to them when he scored 19 points in the final quarter. Toronto’s point guard had as many field goals as the entire Jazz team in the fourth, as he helped Toronto complete its comeback and earn the 104-98 road victory.

Looking for a bounce back

After a disappointing 110-82 loss to the San Antonio Spurs to close out a six-game road trip, the Raptors are looking to get back on track Thursday night. Toronto posted a 3-3 record on the trip, getting wins against Utah, Portland and the Los Angeles Lakers, while falling to Golden State, Phoenix and the Spurs.

The Raptors couldn’t get anything going offensively in San Antonio, shooting just 37 percent for the game in their worst offensive performance of the season. While DeMar DeRozan shot 12-for-21 and scored 26 points, and Terrence Ross added 17 off the bench on 7-for-11 shooting, the rest of the team struggled majorly. Lowry failed to reach double figures for the first time this season and the 82 points were a season low for Toronto.

On the other end of the floor, the Raptors gave up 55 percent shooting to a Spurs team that assisted on 32 of 43 made field goals as Kawhi Leonard scored 25 points and LaMarcus Aldridge added 23 points. After the game Raptors head coach Dwane Casey challenged his team to get back to starting games properly and being able to rely on their defence when they are struggling to score. With the road trip over and the team back on its home floor, the Raptors look to shake off the Spurs game and move forward.

Continuing to mix and match

Patrick Patterson has missed the previous two games with a strained left knee. He hurt his knee during Toronto’s loss to the Phoenix Suns last Thursday. Toronto’s coaching staff has spent those previous two games trying different combinations and lineups to fill the void left by Patterson.

Rookie Jakob Poeltl has seen his playing time get a boost in the last two games and has done his best to take advantage, earning praise from Dwane Casey for his physicality while on the floor. Rookie Pascal Siakam continues to start in place of the injured Jared Sullinger, and though he struggled — like the rest of the Raptors — against the Spurs, he had a fantastic effort in Toronto’s victory against the Lakers.

Rookie seasons generally have plenty of ups and downs, but Siakam and Poeltl have both done well to stay level through the highs and lows. Whether playing or watching from the bench, Poeltl has stayed ready while Siakam has remained calm in games where he’s struggled to make am impact. Trying to pitch in all that Patterson brings is a huge ask for anyone, but Toronto’s two rookies are doing their best to bring their best effort whenever they’re on the floor.

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