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Toronto takes on what's left of Utah while the shorthanded Mavericks go into Houston. NBA expert Jonathan Macri is here with his predictions and picks for Friday night's NBA action.
ANALYSIS

Toronto Raptors vs. Utah Jazz Prediction: Undermanned Utah Visits Torrid Toronto

When: Friday, January 7, 7:30 pm ET

Where to Watch: NBA League Pass

Click Here for Raptors vs Jazz Odds

Toronto Raptors vs. Utah Jazz Line Movement

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Toronto Raptors vs. Utah Jazz Prediction

The best net rating team in the NBA getting double-digit points against a team that’s barely over .500? What sorcery is this?

That’s the situation tonight in Toronto, where the Utah Jazz, winners of 16 of their last 19 games and owners of a nearly 10 points per 100 possessions scoring margin, are heavy underdogs against the 18-17 Raptors. Without context, that looks pretty off.

Except there is context. A lot of context. For starters, the Jazz are not only likely missing all five of their normal starters, but also their top four reserves. The highest level rotation player who isn’t listed as either “doubtful” or “out” is Eric Paschall. After him, it’s third-string center Udoka Azubuike, who has played a grand total of 24 minutes this season, with 16 coming in the last game.

And that’s it. The rest of Utah’s rotation will be composed of players who probably don’t belong on an NBA court. Toronto, on the other hand, is fully healthy, having won four straight behind the scorching shooting hand of Fred VanVleet, who is making quite the push for a spot on the All-Star team. The Raps are playing well at both ends and are just 1.5 games back of the 6th seed. They are a safe bet to get there eventually, especially with a net rating that is the 7th best in basketball over the last 13 games.

That push continues tonight. Happily give the points at home.

Raptors vs. Jazz Pick

  • Raptors -11.5 (-105)
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Houston Rockets vs. Dallas Mavericks Prediction

When: 8:00 pm ET

Where to Watch: NBA League Pass

Click Here for Rockets vs Mavericks Odds

Houston Rockets vs. Dallas Mavericks Line Movement

Houston Rockets vs. Dallas Mavericks Prediction

On its face, you might think this matchup has a little of the same aura surrounding it as Raps Jazz, what with some prominent Mavericks sidelined and Dallas having to go into Houston, where the Rockets are sporting a nearly fully healthy rotation.

In reality, the two situations are quite a bit different. Yes, Luka Doncic is doubtful and Kristaps Porzingis – quietly having himself a very nice season – is out. But the rest of Dallas’ rotation is healthy, including Jalen Brunson, who is averaging 20 points and seven assists on 49 percent shooting overall and 37 percent from deep over his last 11 games.

Between him, Tim Hardaway Jr and the Mavs’ other reserves, they can field a solid 10-man rotation full of honest to goodness NBA players who know how to win a game, like they did against a healthy Wolves team a few weeks ago even though they were missing Luka, KP and Timmy in that game.

Houston, on the other hand, has a problem. Two, in fact: Kevin Porter Jr, who was recently suspended for a game after leaving the arena at halftime in the middle of their bout with the Nuggets, and Christian Wood, who stuck around but refused to get off the bench and was suspended for one game as well.

Wood came back with a vengeance in his return game against the Wizards, helping lead Houston to a 114-111 win in Washington. The Rockets have shown random evidence of spunk throughout this season but have also had bouts of complete and total malaise. Prior to the Wizards game, they had lost eight in a row while giving up about 125 points per 100 possessions, which ranked last in the league over that span.

This might be close, but the line isn’t prohibitive. Take the team that’s been playing well and is still fighting for something, even if they are missing a few top dogs.

Rockets vs. Mavericks Pick

  • Mavericks -2.5 (-105)

Article Author

ROI N/A
NBA

Dean of Knicks Film School, host: KFS Pod, co-host: Pick N Pod. There isn't much about Knicks basketball that Jonathan doesn't know and he's here to break down the big games each and every week.

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