Bulls-Raptors Preview

Toronto Raptors Status Check:
Record: 15-42
Division: 4-7
Conference: 9-27
Home Record: 10-18
Last 10 Games: 2-8
Streak: Lost 2
Last game: Lost 101-114 to Charlotte Bobcats
PPG: 98.7 (16th)
Opponents PPG: 104.6 (23rd)
Offensive Rating: 105.3 (22nd)
Defensive Rating: 111.7 (29th)
Pace: 93.5 (10th)
Effective Field Goal Percentage: .489 (20th)
Turnover Percentage: .138 (21st)
Defensive Rebound Percentage: .722 (22nd)
Offensive Rebound Percentage: .278 (8th)
Free Throws Per Field Goal Attempt: .213 (27th)
Opp. eFG%: .524 (29th)
Opp. TO%: .137 (13th)
Opp. FT/FGA: .248 (25th)
Leading scorer: Andrea Bargnani (21.9)

Stats from Basketball-Reference.com.

Raptors Injury Report:
Reggie Evans: right foot surgery (out indefinitely)
Linas Kleiza: right knee surgery (out for season)

He’s back. Joakim Noah will make his long awaited return tonight against the Raptors. After forever it seems, (30 games and more than two months) Noah is healed enough from thumb surgery to return to the court. Even without their defensive and spiritual leader, the Bulls went 22-8, and are second in defensive rating (just 0.3 points behind the Boston Celtics in that category).

It’s easy to say the Bulls did well in the absence of Joakim, but he was missed. Credit must be given to the Bulls for doing so well when he was out. Kurt Thomas stepped up. Omer Asik and Taj Gibson played well. Rose kept up his MVP level. But Kurt Thomas can only get some many minutes and so many blatant fouls before it really starts to wear on him.

There were definitely times that Noah was needed. It’s hard to believe the Bulls would’ve lost back to back games against the Nets and 76ers with Noah on the court. Those games were mental lapses, and Jo’s energy doesn’t allow for those. Even when out he showed that energy, as he transformed into a freakishly tall cheerleader. He has rivaled Brian Scalabrine as the most energetic bench high-fiver this year — a feat that may rival his 14 points and 11.7 rebounds per game when on the court this season.

Noah’s last game actually came against the Raptors in a win. In 26 minutes, Noah scored 11 points and grabbed 11 boards in a 110-93 victory. And remember, Noah was putting up All-Star numbers before he went down, and was playing with only one hand for a little while, before getting the surgery.

This will be the tenth game this season that Chicago’s frontcourt of Noah and Carlos Boozer will play together. The Bulls were 7-2 in those games, losing only the first two to Orlando and Boston.

Too much shouldn’t be expected of Noah tonight though, as he hasn’t played a game in more than 60 days. “I don’t know how he’s going to respond once he’s out there,” coach Tom Thibodeau said. “We’ll see how he is. Obviously, we’ll try to get him up to starters minutes as quickly as possible. It’ll be similar to what Carlos went through — each game a little bit more — and I think once they start playing, they’ll come around pretty quickly.”

But really, he shouldn’t be needed too much in this game.

Toronto is struggling to say the least this year. Their best player skipped town leaving them with huge question marks all over and struggling to find an identity. Their only participant they had in All-Star weekend was DeMar DeRozan (Rookie-Sophomore game and Dunk contest). They have a better chance of winning the lottery than winning most match-ups this year.

Add to that the Raptors are playing on the second night of a back-to-back. They are 4-8 on the second night of back-to-back games this year. The Bulls on the other hand, are 7-5 on the first night of back-to-back.

Plus, Chicago has already beaten the Raptors twice this year, by an average of 18.5 points.

The Raptors allow opponents to shoot 48.4% against them, the bottom of the barrel in that category. While Chicago holds opponents to a stingy 92.4 points (2nd in the league to, you guessed it, the Celtics).

The Bulls have gone into each game against Toronto with a winning streak (streaks of 6 and 4). They are currently riding a 4 game streak. But each time after Chicago disposed of Toronto, they dropped their next game.

Hopefully the Bulls will go up early, so their starters can sit and will be well rested for tomorrow night’s game against the Heat. But let’s also hope the Bulls aren’t looking ahead to tomorrow night’s showdown with the Miami Heat, and forget about tonight’s match-up.

According to Stats LLC: “The Raptors are 5-31 when they score 101 points or fewer. Just four of the Bulls’ last 36 opponents have scored that many points.”

About the Author:
Braedan Ritter was born and raised in Pennsylvania but was swayed by gifts from his aunt to follow the Chicago sports teams. It didn’t hurt that the Bulls had a guy named Michael Jordan playing for them, and the Sixers had…Derrick Coleman. Braedan has stuck with Chicago through thick and thin, and really thin (see: Chicago Cubs). And speaking of Coleman, Braedan is currently a student at Syracuse University.


6 Responses to Bulls-Raptors Preview

  1. Jimmy February 23, 2011 at 11:58 pm #

    “He has rivaled Brian Scalabrine as the most energetic bench high-fiver this year”

    I just laughed out loud at work after reading this. I thought I was the only one who appreciated Scalabrines high fiving abilities! 😉

  2. Luvabull February 24, 2011 at 12:20 am #

    Can’t wait! Can’t wait!
    Can’t wait for the strech run to get started.
    Can’t wait to see Noah back in action.
    Can’t wait to see the tornado in action again.
    Can’t wait to see it the Bulls can actually be better.
    Can’t wait to see the Bulls fast breaking again.
    Can’t wait to see the Bulls vs Heat, Celts, Magic.
    Can’t wait to see the Bulls win more than 20 vs West.
    Can’t wait to see the Bulls block the Knick again!
    Can’t Wait! Can’t Wait!
    Go Bulls.

  3. prosper.guard@gmail.com'
    MadKing February 24, 2011 at 1:41 am #

    I hate the “revenge game” (i.e. Ty Thomas; hopefully not JJ too).

  4. cliniclysick February 24, 2011 at 2:43 am #

    Well, that sucked.

  5. Inception February 24, 2011 at 2:59 am #

    geez, what a let-down game….another loss tomorrow to MIA and the #2 seed will slowly slip away…

  6. reggiemcglory@yahoo.com'
    chitown4life February 24, 2011 at 4:08 am #

    @ everyone did you see the game tonight, did you see the way everyone seemed lost accept DROSE did anyone else score in the last 6 mins but Rose what I don’t think they did also if they did it was only one basket rose scored like the last nine points b4 that one basket. We need to make a move now I don’t want to hear the stay the course talk any more keep asik talk, if we get the player for him n a trade that will help this team win then I am for it period. Our Bulls are in need of some serious scoring don’t make excuses about ruse not playing for a few days these guys eat sleep and live and most of all play basketball. Time for waiting is over who will help this team next year when they could possibly win this year win it all, lets go GAR/ Pax get this deal done every other team is making it happen time for you to cut to the chase and make some moves. Get Mayo almost at all cost . Brewer cannot shoot from outside korver cannot play D that good and bogans he is what he is low pay high d guy. If we don’t get some more scoring we will not go far this or any other year. good move with JJ hated to see him go but least you got some more room and he has a place he can play hope it does not come back in bite us I thought his game had an upside as did the raptors via 1st round pick imagine that anyways lets go get this deal done .. Peace

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