Ricky Rubio will miss his second game in a row tonight after taking this brutal hit in the Jazz’s loss against the Sixers last week:
It’s an understandable blow for the Jazz to lose their starting point guard for any amount of time–especially as they attempt to scrape their way to a hotly-contested playoff spot–but in their subsequent game against the Knicks they appeared more than alright without Rubio.
Dante Exum embraced his first start of the season and achieved a double-double: 13 points and 13 assists–many of them gorgeous lobs to center Rudy Gobert, who scored 25.
He’s expected to get the starting nod again tonight, though facing the Raptors will present much more of a challenge than the 9-28 Knicks ever could. In the Jazz’s 129-97 win on Saturday, Exum’s statline was complemented by Gobert and Favors’s own double-doubles: 25 points and 16 rebounds for Gobert, 12 points and 10 rebounds for Favors. Contributing as well were Donovan Mitchell and Kyle Korver’s 15 apiece.
All of these players and more will have to put up similar numbers to have a chance against the best team in the league.
The Raptors will Present a Significant Challenge for an Inconsistent Jazz Team, Despite Missing Kyle Lowry
Since the Jazz’s underdog playoff run last season, the team has had a hard time reaching their former glory and remaining consistent. They came into the season expecting to occupy a top spot in the Western Conference (and gave the Houston Rockets a run for their money in the second round) but quickly fell short after a series of inexplicable losses.
Currently at 11th place in the Western Conference (a significant improvement considering their recent hovering near the very bottom of the standings), every coming game will only increase in importance for this Utah team as they try to salvage their playoff hopes.
The Raptors, though, will present a major challenge in the Jazz’s journey toward the playoffs tonight, despite the absence of PG Kyle Lowry. They’ve been nearly unstoppable since acquiring Kawhi Leonard in the offseason, and they have the best record in the league despite being 2nd in the Eastern Conference.
Only recently supplanted by the Milwaukee Bucks for that top spot, the Raptors have maybe surpassed the ever-dominant Warriors as the team to beat this season. Unlike the Warriors, they’ve been relatively drama-free and consistent, making them a top contender for the title. It’ll be surprising not to see this team in the NBA Finals, and they’ll probably be facing the infamous Warriors themselves.
That’s an intimidating fact for this struggling Jazz team to face as they head into the matchup tonight, but the Raptors are far from unbeatable. In fact, they’ve lost 6 of their last 12 matchups–a significant number, considering they’ve only lost 11 games total this season.