Talk about going from tough to tougher.
The Bulls just put in one of their better defensive performances on Monday night and now look to do the same against the Raptors.
Problem is, there's no word on how banged up the Raptors will be. We know that a lot of them sustained injuries in the last 24 hours after roughing it up with the Nets. Word is that Alan Anderson, Amir Johnson, and both our Point Guards will play, with Gray coming in to start against Chicago's front line.
Here's what the Raptors need to accomplish tonight to get a win:
1) Wing recovery - Terrence Ross, Alan Anderson, and DeMar DeRozan were a combined 7 of 28 the other night. 25% simply isn't going to cut it. In fact, in the last two losses, DeRozan shot 35.3%, Alan Anderson shot 14.3%, and Terrence Ross shot 20%. It's completely unacceptable, and against the Bulls, it's not going to be easier.
Unless we get these three guys out of their slump, the Raptors won't have a chance in hell. The Raptors need to see more aggression from all three players, especially DeMar DeRozan, who has to become more consistent to justify his new responsibilities.
2) Capitalize on the Bulls mistakes - The Bulls can cough the ball up quite a bit if the Raptors are aggressive on their defense. In tonight's game, they're going to have to capitalize on this advantage if they hope to win. With the Bulls defense being so stifling in the half court, the Raptors need to create opportunities by stealing the ball and on leak outs.
Prime targets are Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer, both of whom cough up the rock just under 3 times a game.
3) Everyone at the Boards - The Raptors are 28th in the league in rebounding. The Bulls are 7th. Chief amongst the best in the NBA right now are Carlos Boozer (14th in the league per 36 minutes) and Joakim Noah (11th in the league per game). With the Raptors only having one player (Ed Davis) above a 15% rebounding rate, and the Bulls having five players, it could be a rough night.
It's for that reason, we need better rebounding from guys like Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan tonight. The Raptors need to win the possession battle.
Or at least make it close.
I won't lie. This could get ugly tonight. But the Raptors need to start winning and stealing some games against teams that are above them in the conference. That's the only way they're going to climb out of this hole they dug for themselves to begin this year.