Bulls-Raptors Preview

Toronto Raptors Status Check:
Record: 30-48
Division: 3-11
Conference: 18-30
Home Record: 18-20
Last 10 Games: 4-6
Streak: Won 1
Last game: 101-98 win over Chicago
PPG: 96.8 (16th)
Opponents PPG: 99.1 (18th)
Offensive Rating: 105.5 (16th)
Defensive Rating: 108.0 (22nd)
Pace: 90.4 (24th)
Effective Field Goal Percentage: .486 (18th)
Turnover Percentage: .130 (5th)
Defensive Rebound Percentage: .733 (20th)
Offensive Rebound Percentage: .255 (21st)
Free Throws Per Field Goal Attempt: .213 (11th)
Opp. eFG%: .501 (17th)
Opp. TO%: .137 (15th)
Opp. FT/FGA: .253 (30th)
Leading scorer: Rudy Gay (19.1)

Stats from Basketball-Reference

Toronto Injury Report:
Jonas Valanciunas: out (strained neck)
Terrence Ross: questionable (sprained ankle)
Linas Kleiza: out (sore knee)
Andrea Bargnani: out (sprained elbow)

Overview:
We should have expected this. It’s what the Bulls have been doing all season. They play up or down to their opponent, and when they saw the Knicks coming in on the high of winning 13 straight games, Chicago got hungry. Recently, the Bulls have beaten Indiana, Brooklyn, Miami and New York while losing to the Raptors, Pistons and Wizards.

Chicago held the Knicks to 40.4 percent from the field and 33.3 percent from deep, one game after New York drilled 20 treys. Carmelo Anthony and JR Smith scored 36 and 28 points respectively, but they combined to shoot just 24-61.

Those two high volume scorers were outdone by the suddenly efficient Nate Robinson. Nate scored a season-high 35 points on 10-18 from the field, 5-11 from beyond the arc and 10-10 from the line. Overall, the Bulls got to the line 37 times, hitting 30 of those freebies. New York hit 17-22 from the line.

If the see-saw that has been the Bulls season continues, it’ll be a long night for Chicago against a sub-.500 Raptors team. The Bulls may have some added desire in this one though, wanting to repay Toronto for the loss they handed Chicago on Monday night.

Carlos Boozer should probably play well tonight, considering it’s against a lesser opponent. Boozington didn’t do much at all last night, except fail to take advantage of his size. The Knicks were missing all of their power forwards and centers and it didn’t matter. Boozer still settled for jumpers instead of going to the basket, and finished 3-11 from the field. He grabbed 15 rebounds, but his lack of scoring and his five turnovers combined for a sizeable failure considering the circumstances that were in his favor.

Boozer didn’t play too well on Monday either, when the Bulls fell to the Raptors. Boozington went 7-20 from the field, for 19 points. He added eleven rebounds and eight assists for what would have been one of the emptiest triple-doubles ever. This isn’t “Jump on Boozer Day,” because that’s in May during the playoffs, but with all the injuries the Bulls are facing, he needs to step up and start scoring more efficiently.

There was a lot of blame to go around for that loss to the Raptors though, particularly anyone not named Jimmy Butler. Butler went 10-12 from the field for 28 points and added seven boards, two steals and two assists. Nate Robinson scored 22 points on 22 shots, Nazr Mohammed went 3-9, and Kirk Hinrich and Marco Belinelli both struggled to score. Honestly, Malcolm Thomas (3-6 FG, eight rebounds, two assists, one steal, one block) may have been the Bulls’ second best player.

Rudy gay tallied 19 points and six rebounds, while DeMar DeRozan led the Raps with 20 points. Toronto jumped out to an 18-3 advantage to start the game, and the Bulls were never able to take the lead back. Chicago fell behind to the Knicks, 23-6, but Nate Robinson and Jimmy Butler provided enough offense to bring the Bulls back.

Jonas Valanciunas, who left the court on a gurney with a neck injury after the Raptors-Bulls game, will not play tonight. Valanciunas battled foul trouble on Monday night, playing 23 minutes and posting eight points and three rebounds.

With four games remaining for the Bulls, Chicago holds a half-game advantage over Atlanta for the fifth place spot. Atlanta’s remaining schedule is: vs. Milwaukee, vs. Toronto and at New York. The Bulls play: at Toronto, at Miami, at Orlando and finish out the season at home against Washington. Each squad plays one playoff team in that stretch, but it’s unclear who will be playing when they meet. Miami already has homecourt locked up, but LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh are expected to play against Boston tonight. The Knicks will probably have the two-seed locked up by that point as well, so resting Melo may be an option.

Rest or no rest, the Bulls have three games against sub-.500 squads that they should win, and a game against Miami that they can win, but the Heat could be looking to avenge the loss that ended their winning streak.

Either way, the Bulls can’t overlook the Raptors tonight; because two losses to Toronto in one week would be…well I’m not sure there is a word for that.

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