Game Preview: Chicago Bulls (3-3) vs. Toronto Raptors (4-5)

Photo from Flickr via Basketball Schedule

Photo from Flickr via Basketball Schedule

Six games into the season and the Bulls are just 3-3, sitting four games back in their division and playing far below their potential

But it’s just six games, and it was obvious coming into the year that it would take time to work Derrick Rose back into the lineup. That work got harder though. Rose, who hasn’t been as good as he was in the preseason, showed late flashes against the Cavaliers with a few explosive moves in the fourth before exiting the game for good with a hamstring injury that had me making sacrifices of livestock to the basketball gods.

Fortunately it was ruled a hamstring strain and the Bulls have had off since Monday’s victory over Cleveland, giving Rose and his leg time to heal. Unfortunately, Rose didn’t practice Thursday and is—wait for it!—a game time decision against the Raptors. Isn’t it swell to be in the same position as the second half of last season?

“We’re going to see where he is,” Tom Thibodeau told Bull’s official website. “If he can play, he’ll play. If he can’t, he’ll sit. We’re taking it day-by-day.”

Of course you are, Tom.

Anyway, Rose or not, the Bulls travel to Toronto for the first night of a back-to-back, where Chicago will search for its first road win of the year. It’s also the first of a three-games-in-four-nights stretch. Chicago hasn’t started 0-4 on the road since Rose’s rookie year.

The Bulls are allowing 103.7 points per game on the road this season, on 47.1 percent shooting, compared with 78.3 point on 35.4 percent from the field in the United Center. Much of that is because the Bulls opponents at home this season have all been lesser offensive teams. The Knicks (23rd), Jazz (30th) and Cavaliers (29th) are all near the bottom of the league in offensive rating.

The Bulls won’t be so lucky against the Raptors, who are 9th in offensive rating. Rudy Gay is the team’s leading scorer at 19.7 per contest. Gay rebounded from an ugly 11-37 night against the Rockets on Monday to go 8-18 for 23 points in his first game visiting his former Memphis team.

If Rose is out, that means Kirk Hinrich will have to step up (stop laughing, I’m serious). But really, with last season under their belt, playing without Derrick Rose shouldn’t be too big of an issue for the Bulls. Although there’s no Nate Robinson walking through the door, so Carlos Boozer (18.0 points per contest) will have to continue his impressive start to the year in which he is shooting 60.3 percent from the field and 90.9 percent from the line.

2012-2013 season, here we come again.

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