Toronto Raptors Status Check:
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.