Raptors-Bulls Preview

Toronto Raptors Status Check:
Record: 20-54
Division: 4-9
Conference: 12-32
Road Record: 6-31
Last 10 Games: 3-7
Streak: Lost 5
Last game: Lost 104-98 to Milwaukee
PPG: 99.3 (17th)
Opponents PPG: 105.6 (26th)
Offensive Rating: 105.7 (21st)
Defensive Rating: 112.4 (30th)
Pace: 93.4 (10th)
Effective Field Goal Percentage: .491 (21st)
Turnover Percentage: .138 (22nd)
Defensive Rebound Percentage: .719 (24th)
Offensive Rebound Percentage: .276 (9th)
Free Throws Per Field Goal Attempt:  .216 (24th)
Opp. eFG%: .524 (28th)
Opp. TO%: .133 (14th)
Opp. FT/FGA: .248 (26th)
Leading scorer: Andrea Bargnani (21.8)
Stats from Basketball-Reference.com.
Toronto Injury Report:
Andrea Bargnani: sore left ankle (questionable for tonight’s game)
Jose Calderon: tightness in left hamstring (out for tonight’s game)
Reggie Evans: foot (day-to-day)
Linas Kleiza: right knee surgery (out for season)
The Bulls are 2 ½ games ahead of Miami and three games up on Boston for the top spot in the East. Both of those teams are off tonight, so the Bulls can gain a half-game on each of them.
The Bulls are 2-1 in the season series against Toronto this year, but they lost the most recent match-up. The 118-113 loss came in Joakim Noah’s return from injury, maybe tonight Noah will return from injury to a win. Chicago is 17-3 since their loss to Toronto. The Raptors are 4-12 since then.
The Bulls haven’t allowed 118 points since the Toronto fiasco, and it remains the second most they have given up all season. Actually, Chicago’s defense in the month of March was their best all season. They allowed 87.4 points per game, and went 13-3. That 13-3 record was also their best winning percentage of any month.
Hopefully the Bulls try to seek revenge on the Raptors tonight, the way they have against other teams that embarrassed them.
Last night the Bulls got outrebounded and out shot by Detroit. In the previous 3 games against Toronto, Chicago has outrebounded the Raptors 42.3 to 33.7. The Bulls shot 49.8 percent in the first three games, while the Raptors shot 48.8 percent.
In all honesty, the Raptors shouldn’t beat the Bulls. If the Bulls play their game and are focused the Raptors really shouldn’t be within ten points. But Chicago is coming into this game on the second night of a back-to-back. As far as back to backs go, though, it’d be hard to find an easier group than Pistons-Raptors (Cavaliers-Wizards maybe, New Jersey Institute of Technology-YMCA pick-up team).
Player to watch:
Carlos Boozer, who seems to be hitting his stride recently, dropped 34 points (season high) and grabbed 12 rebounds on December 15 against Toronto. In the next match-up, on January 4, Boozer scored just 12 points but grabbed 13 rebounds. Then, in the most recent match-up, Boozington scored 24 points and added 6 rebounds. Which Boozer will the Bulls get tonight? Sometimes he disappears (not including defense where he hasn’t ever appeared).
A stat for Toronto’s hopes:
According to Stats LLC, the Raptors have won five of their last seven visits to the United Center.
From the TrueHoop network, Raptors Republic:
“Rose is going to have a very big game, and so is Boozer, and there is nothing the Raptors can do about it, especially given the injury situation and so many guys both hurting and not giving a rats ass at this point of the season. Hopefully the Raptors go 0-8 over the last week and a half, and put some pressure on the Wizards for 3rd (worst).” – Sam Holako
That right there says A LOT about this game, and the different directions of the two teams.

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.

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