Photo Credit: Raptors.com
The Toronto Raptors end their four-game home stand in Florida tonight with their second matchup this season against the Chicago Bulls. The two teams vying for a play-in and possible East playoff spot this year are playing tonight as a result of their game on February 28th being postponed due to the Raptors Covid outbreak.
While the month of March was ugly for Toronto, the Raptors look to end the home stretch with a 3-1 record. Before the Lakers loss on Tuesday, Toronto put a beatdown on Golden State, winning by a franchise record 53 points, while newcomer, Gary Trent Jr., hit a three point buzzer-beater to beat Washington on Monday.
The Raptors will need that type of play from Trent Jr. tonight as they will once again be missing two of their top three scorers, Fred VanVleet and Kyle Lowry. The team will also be without Patrick McCaw, Rodney Hood, Jalen Harris and Paul Watson Jr..
After a heated exchange and ejection on Tuesday, OG Anunoby will be back in the lineup for Toronto and leaned upon heavily, as will Chris Boucher. Although dealing with some inconsistency with his shot, Pascal Siakam has played well, averaging 22.2 points and over 7 rebounds per game during the past ten.
Following six straight losses, the Bulls have won two in a row including a victory over the Nets last Sunday. Newly acquired center, Nikola Vucevic, has fit in well, scoring over 22 points and grabbing 11 rebounds per game in his six with the team.
The Raptors will need to focus defensively on Zach LaVine who is seventh in the NBA in scoring, averaging 27.2 points per game. The young star is having a career year, carrying much of the Bulls offence this season, sixth in the association in three pointers made.
Sitting at tenth in the Conference with a 21-28 record, the Bulls have beaten up on lesser teams, with 16 of their wins coming against teams below .500. In contrast, they are tied for second worst in the league with 5 wins against teams above .500.
With the Raptors in 11th, right below the Bulls, both teams need to kick into gear now if they have any hope of extending their season. Tip-off is set for 7:30PM EST on TSN.