Utah Jazz 2018-19 Preseason Outlook, Predictions

SALT LAKE CITY, UT - SEPTEMBER 24: Head Coach Quin Snyder of the Utah Jazz poses for a portrait at media day on September 24, 2018 at the Zions Bank Basketball Campus in Salt Laker City, Utah. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images)
SALT LAKE CITY, UT - SEPTEMBER 24: Head Coach Quin Snyder of the Utah Jazz poses for a portrait at media day on September 24, 2018 at the Zions Bank Basketball Campus in Salt Laker City, Utah. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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TORONTO, ON – SEPTEMBER 24: Kawhi Leonard #2 of the Toronto Raptors speaks to the media at a press conference after media day on September 24, 2018 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Ron Turenne/NBAE via Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON – SEPTEMBER 24: Kawhi Leonard #2 of the Toronto Raptors speaks to the media at a press conference after media day on September 24, 2018 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Ron Turenne/NBAE via Getty Images) /

10/2 Utah vs. Toronto

7:00 pm MT – AT&T SportsNet/League Pass

It won’t take long for the stakes and competitiveness to rise significantly after facing Perth given that Utah’s next contest will be against the East’s mighty Toronto Raptors. The Raptors were a force to be reckoned with during the regular season last year as they took home the number one seed in convincing fashion. They’ve kept much of that talented group in place while replacing one All-Star, DeMar DeRozan, with a superstar in Kawhi Leonard.

Hypothetically, that move should make the Raptors really, really good. But they also have a lot of questions to answer. Is Leonard fully recovered from last season’s weird bout with injury? Will he be the same player upon returning? How will he fit chemistry-wise in Toronto on a team and for a fanbase that loved DeRozan? Will his impending free agency and presumed departure be a distraction this season?

It’s likely going to take the better part of 82 games to answer all those questions, but one thing is certain, with Kawhi in their mix, the Raptors are facing some high expectations. Certainly, they have their eyes set on the top seed in the East once again and hopefully a Finals appearance. If Leonard doesn’t skip a beat and is the prolific defensive monster and offensive beast he once was, I truly think they could pull it off.

But in terms of Tuesday’s preseason bout, I’m leaning more towards the Jazz finding a way to thwart the Toronto Raptors. If it were the regular season, I may have a different opinion. And as I mentioned earlier, anything can happen in preseason games so who knows how much the best players for either team will even play.

However, considering that this game will be taking place on Utah’s home court in the first preseason contest against NBA talent, I think the Jazz will have a bit of an edge. Not only that, but with preseason just getting underway, it’s obviously going to take some time for Leonard and the rest of his Raptors teammates to get accustomed to one another whereas the Jazz should largely already be in sync.

Combine those two factors, and I’m expecting the Jazz to come out on top albeit in narrow fashion in what could feel much less like a preseason bout and more like a legitimate contest between two teams eyeing top seeds in their respective conferences.

My Prediction: Jazz Win

Final Score: Utah 103, Toronto 97