Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images
Can the injured Utah Jazz retake the number 1 seed?
The Utah Jazz (45-18) have fallen to the 2 seed in the Western Conference following a loss in Phoenix yesterday. They have a chance to take it back tonight. With a win, Utah would take a half game lead on the Suns, who don’t play until tomorrow in Oklahoma City. If the Jazz want that top seed, they’ll have to regain some rhythm. Phoenix won’t lose many of their remaining games, so Utah will have to be even better. The Jazz’ first opponents they will have to deal with are the Toronto Raptors.
The Raptors (26-37) have had a tumultuous season. Due to differing laws across the United States and Canada, the Raptors have had to make Tampa Bay, FL their makeshift home for the season. They’ve had a lot of ups and downs, but mostly downs. This team was largely expected to be a top 5 seed in the East, and is currently in 12th. At this point, they’re looking at fighting for the play-in tournament, or sticking in the lottery. The Raptors are currently coming off losses to the Nets and the Nuggets, and will be looking to right the ship.
The last time these two teams played, it came down to the last second. Donovan Mitchell hit a clutch bucket with 30 seconds left, and Pascal Siakam barely missed what would have been the game tying shot at the buzzer. The Jazz escaped with a victory, and Toronto will likely be looking for revenge.
When: Saturday, May 1, 2021 8:00 PM Mountain Time
Where: Vivint Arena, Salt Lake City, UT
Radio: 97.5 am 1280 fm
What to watch for
The Jazz are missing two All-Star guards, and it shows. While the bench was able to show up in a big way against the Sacramento Kings, it was completely unable to do so against the Phoenix Suns. With Mitchell and Conley out, a lot of responsibility falls on Joe Ingles and Jordan Clarkson. Both are leading candidates for the Sixth Man of the Year award, and we’ve seen both take over games. They have that ability, but the role of lead ball handler is not what either of them are used to. They have to step outside of their comfort zones a little bit. The Jazz will need Ingles to be aggressive with his shot. They’ll need Clarkson to be smart with his decisions. If they can do that, the losses of Conley and Mitchell can be hidden.
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