Raps get their first look at new-look Jazz

FRANK ZICARELLI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:40 AM ET

Having played back-to-back games trying to contain Deron Williams, the Raptors now face the point guard’s former team.

It’s a Utah team minus the face of the franchise in head coach Jerry Sloan, who unexpectedly announced his resignation last month amid reports the old-school Sloan clashed with Williams, who was subsequently traded to New Jersey.

Tonight, the Raptors get their first look at the new-look Jazz, who continue to persevere through injuries.

“They’re pretty much the same because they play hard,” Raptors starting power forward Amir Johnson said.

Johnson conveniently overlooked Utah’s embarrassing night in New York on Monday, but he’s right in saying Utah hasn’t changed much of their approach, at least basketball-wise.

What has changed and what continues to evolve is Utah’s personality in the wake of Williams’ trade.

As Raptors head coach Jay Triano correctly pointed out, Tyrone Corbin has been groomed to one day serve as a head coach having learned under Sloan as an assistant.

“More than anything, the trade has affected them,” Triano said. “Ty Corbin is a good coach. The years he had spent with Jerry are part of who he is.

“The system and style they’re playing is still very similar. Their personality has changed, but that’s due to injuries and the trade.”

It’s not very often the Raptors play an opponent where they actually match up well against.

Then again, it’s rare to see Sloan not behind Utah’s bench.

Fans arriving early at the ACC may see the Raptors doing their pre-game routine on the opponent’s side of midcourt, which is rare, but it was one of the traits that made Sloan unique.

Visiting teams have the option, kind of like a football team winning the coin toss and electing to defer to the second half.

Only in basketball, there is no coin toss.

With both the Raptors and Jazz in a transitional phase, tonight’s game is a coin toss seeing that neither squad is exactly playing at a high level.

In 29 career meetings, the Raptors have won seven.

Including this season’s blowout loss in Utah, the Raptors have lost 11 in a row to the Jazz.


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