December 5, 2017, 3:56 pm
It’s a three-game night in the league on this chilly Tuesday in December. Devin Booker is coming off an NBA Jam fireball through the basket kind of game. Is he still on fire as the Suns travel to Toronto? The Jazz and their unexpected rookie phenom are firing on all cylinders as they take on the Thunder. And in the nightcap, the Blazers are awaiting a Wizards team reeling from a 57-point loss in Utah last night.
Let’s take a look at what to watch for with today’s Layup Line:
Phoenix Suns @ Toronto Raptors
Devin, Don’t Hurt ‘Em
In the Suns’ last four games, all road games against Eastern Conference teams, Devin Booker has put on a show. He’s gone for more than 30 points in three of those games including last night’s bonkers performance in a win over the Sixers which saw Booker finish with 46 points, eight rebounds and two steals. He’s gone on this tear while shooting 54 percent from the field and hitting 15 3-pointers. While the Raptors have been very successful at home, winning eight of their nine home games so far this season, shooting guards have had scoring success in that building this season. Toronto has allowed three 30-point games at home this season, all coming to high-volume shooting guards (Bradley Beal, Jrue Holiday, Victor Oladipo). If you were expecting Booker to cool off because it’s the second night of a back-to-back in a tough venue, think again.
The Raptors’ offense has been highly overlooked this season as they’ve been one of the best scoring teams in the league so far. Their 110.9 points per game is fourth best in the NBA. It’s nothing flashy, it’s just extraordinarily efficient. The Raptors have the second best field goal percentage in the league and are shooting a ridiculous 57 percent on 2-pointers so far. They’ll likely wear down the Suns’ suspect defense and beat them into submission. One guy to watch tonight is Serge Ibaka. After a string of tough shooting nights, Ibaka shot 60 percent last Friday night against the Pacers and hit three 3-pointers. He’s also averaging over one block per game and finds himself against an opponent that is among the most susceptible to blocked shots in the league. The Suns gets blocked 5.3 times per game, sixth-most in the NBA.
Utah Jazz @ Oklahoma City Thunder
All anybody wants to talk about these days is Donovan Mitchell and rightfully so. The rookie is averaging over 25 points per game over his last five. But any chance we here at HoopBall get a chance to talk about Joe Ingles, we take it. Ingles is providing 5th round value up to this point and has been crazy consistent so far. In the last ten games, Ingles has hit two or more 3-pointers nine times. He’s shot 53 percent over that time and averaged 4.5 assists in the process. The only time Utah has played OKC this year, Ingles dropped a season-high 19 points and five 3s.
Steven Adams had a very good weekend. On Friday night, he went for a career-high 27 points on a perfect 11-for-11 from the floor. He followed that up with 19 points, 10 rebounds, three steals and a block against the Spurs on Sunday. He was also efficient from the floor in that one, shooting 61 percent. But Rudy Gobert is back and in his return on Monday night, the Wizards already felt the effect of the Stifle Tower. The Wiz centers combined for four points on 1-of-8 shooting. Gobert brought down 10 rebounds and blocked two shots in just 21 minutes of action. Expectations for Adams’ night should be tempered. The last time he hooked up with Gobert, he was held to nine points and five rebounds. Unless Gobert sees serious minute restrictions on the second game of a back-to-back, Adams could see a similar fate tonight.
Washington Wizards @ Portland Trail Blazers
Not So Ottomatic
The Wizards got stomped into oblivion last night in Utah but that feels more like a throwaway performance than a sign of things to come. It was ugly all around and no positives came from it which is the exact opposite of their game this past Friday night when they beat a tough Pistons team by 18. So who is this team? They are perhaps the most inconsistent and unpredictable team in the league. Even their most consistent player and best fantasy player to this point, Otto Porter, he’s struggled on the second night of back-to-backs so far this season. In the two prior back-to-backs the Wizards have had, on the second night Porter has shot well below 50 percent and averaged just 10 points. He did, however, grab three steals in each of those contests. It’s hard to count on the Wizards. Tonight will be no different.
Aminu Goes Full Throttle
Al-Farouq Aminu is off his minutes restriction and if he’s available in your league, he’s the guy to grab tonight. The Blazers only play twice this week which is unfortunate but Aminu was bringing top-60 value in his first eight games of the season. Even in his two games since returning from the bad ankle sprain, he’s grabbed five rebounds and hit at least one 3-pointer in each game. When he returns to form, look for those rebound numbers to go up. He also hasn’t had a block yet in his return but he did have at least one in each of his first eight games of the season, so look for those to return as well.