Tonight will be our first look at the Utah Jazz following their big three-team trade, as they will head to Toronto to take on the Raptors. We’ll preview the game before going over why I’m targeting a first-half bet in this one.
Many people expected the Toronto Raptors to be sellers at the trade deadline, but instead, they went out and acquired big-man Jakob Poeltl. The Raptors went 6-4 over their previous ten games and, in that span, got 48.5% of their scoring from inside the paint, so with the addition of Poeltl, we can expect an even higher percentage for the remainder of the season.
Toronto’s NET rating of 3.3 was the 8th best in the league over the past ten games, so a move up the standings is attainable if they can continue this pace. Toronto is currently amid a three-game win streak, with their last loss coming against their opponent tonight, the Utah Jazz.
In that game, the Raptors allowed the Jazz to score 131 points, the highest total they had allowed over their past ten games. Tonight’s Jazz will not look the same, though, as they recently traded away three players who played in that game, Mike Conley, Malik Beasley, and Jarred Vanderbilt.
Conley and Beasley combined for 33 points in the last meeting between these two teams, so Utah will need to rely even more on Lauri Markkanen and Jordan Clarkson to carry the offense. The Jazz were ranked 2nd in the NBA in offensive efficiency rating over the previous ten games, but a dip in those numbers is expected as they try to find the right lineups to replace those rotation pieces.
Despite the solid offensive rating, the Jazz will enter tonight on a three-game losing streak and fresh off, allowing 143 points in their most recent loss. Mike Conley did not have a great defensive rating, but his likely replacement, Collin Sexton, does not either, so the defensive end may remain a struggle in Utah for the remainder of the season.
For my play in this one, I’ll be taking the Raptors' first-half spread at -3.5. Toronto is 6-4 ATS over their last ten games in the first half, while Utah is 2-6-2 ATS in the first half of their last ten road games.
Over the last ten games, the Raptors and Jazz had the same NET rating in the first half of games; however, Utah will be playing with a much different team tonight, while Toronto will be getting a boost on both ends of the floor with Jakob Poeltl expected to be available to play. Testing out new lineups in the first half may be challenging for the Jazz since the Raptors are ranked 14th and 11th in first and second-quarter points allowed, and their 1H defensive rating over the past ten games ranked 9th in the league.
The Raptors were also 11th in 1H offensive rating in that span, which could give fits to a Jazz team that was already ranked 19th in defensive rating before the trade. Utah was 16th in the league in opponent points in the paint in that same ten-game span, and with Toronto getting 48.5% of their scoring from inside the paint, I think they can find a lot of success on that end of the floor right away.
Toronto Raptors 1H (-3.5)