Utah Jazz vs. Toronto Raptors: Keys to remain undefeated at home

TORONTO, ON - JANUARY 05: Joe Ingles (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - JANUARY 05: Joe Ingles (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) /
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Key #2 – Force tough shots from deep

Although Utah’s ability to shut down opponents from behind the arc this season has been somewhat marginal (12th in the league in opponent three-point percentage at 34.8 percent), they may very well get a chance to improve on that mark tonight. That’s because the Toronto Raptors are currently the second worst three-point shooting team in the league at an average of just 30.7 percent, all while attempting the fourth most threes per game (32.6) in the NBA.

High volume and low efficiency from deep is far from a recipe for success and Utah will have to capitalize on what has been a key weakness for the Raptors so far on the season by forcing them to settle for deep looks and challenging those shots. Given that Toronto has been far from efficient on the year, if Utah’s stifling defense can make them work even harder for those shots than they’ve had to thus far, then it’s likely that the Raptors will have an even more challenging time converting.

In a lot of ways, it’s not all that surprising that Toronto is a middling three-point shooting team given that their leading scorer, DeMar DeRozan, gets a ton of touches, but has never been known as a three-point threat. In fact, he’s shooting just 22.2 percent on the year.

They also have Serge Ibaka who, despite boasting an improved three-point shot, still isn’t all that deadly from deep even though you wouldn’t know it from the number of shot attempts he puts up from long-range. Ibaka is currently shooting just 34.4 percent from three-point land on 5.3 attempts per game.

Then there’s Kyle Lowry who is typically considered a solid deep-ball threat, but he’s actually struggled immensely on the year as one of those guys who’s personifying that high volume, low efficiency that I mentioned earlier. Lowry leads the team in three-point attempts at a whopping 6.7 per game, but he’s converting on a dismal 31.9 of them.

Last of all, Toronto’s leading three-point shooter for the time being is none other than former Jazzman C.J. Miles. Miles has definitely solidified himself as an incredible three-point shooter in this league, but for whatever reason – be it nerves, mixed emotions or mere coincidence – C.J. has not played well in Salt Lake City in many of his recent visits.

Last year as a member of the Indiana Pacers, he shot just 2-of-8 from the field and 1-of-5 from deep for six points. The year before that he went an even worse 2-of-10 from the field and 1-of-6 from deep, but had some luck at the foul line to finish with 12 points. To find the last (and really the only) good game he had in a road contest against the Jazz, you have to go back to January 10, 2014 when C.J. was a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers and notched 17 points in 24 minutes on 6-of-7 shooting.

With all that adding up and considering Utah’s sturdy defense, it’s not unlikely to suppose that the Raptors will struggle again from behind the arc. If the Jazz hope to come out on top tonight, they’ll need to prevent Toronto from breaking out in that area and ensure that their deep-ball struggles continue.