If it's going to happen before the eventual heat death of the universe, its going to happen tonight.
Everything is pointing towards tonight being the night that snaps the Raptors' 11-game streak of despair against the Bulls. Chicago is crumbling. Seriously, there are so many reasons why the Raptors should win this game.
- Dwyane Wade is out for the remainder of the season with an "elbow" injury.
- The Bulls have slipped to 10th in the East, going 3-7 over their last 10 games.
- Things are so bad that Rajon Rondo has once again been given the green light to personally run Fred Hoiberg's offense into the ground.
- Because the Bulls are horribly run, human asteroid Doug McDermott is no longer on the roster.
- The Raptors have won two-straight on the back of the league's third-best post-All Star defense.
Rational thinking suggests the Raptors, 6.5 point favourites, should win this one comfortably. My optimism earlier this week was so rampant that I tweeted this on Sunday:
Raptors are beating the Bulls on Tuesday. I'm talking this into existence.— Sean Woodley (@WoodleySean) March 18, 2017
Since then all I've done is chuckle internally at the naivety of my prediction. I know better than that. But the Bulls have a way of beating the logic out of you, I guess.
Here's what to watch for as the Raptors lose tonight.
It's the time of year where scoreboard watching becomes as big a part of the fan experience as your favourite team's own games. Last night offered a conflict for Raptors fans as the Celtics squared off against Washington in a battle of the East's second- and third-seeds.
As unseemly as Boston victories are, the Celtics' 110-102 win on Monday was the preferable outcome for the Raptors. Heading into tonight's action, Toronto now sits just a game back of the Wizards for third place and a Cavs-free road to the Eastern Conference Finals.
After losing to Chicago tonight, the deficit will be a mere 1.5 games with the tiebreaker in Toronto's favour and a murderous road trip awaiting the Wizards next week. The smart money is still on Washington outlasting the Kyle Lowry-less Raptors for the right to beat Boston in the second round, but this has the makings of a race that should keep the East seeding jumble interesting into the final days of the regular season.
Wasn't it a pleasant sight to see DeMarre Carroll shoot 4-of-5 from deep in Sunday's demolition of Indiana? Carroll's been a mess offensively since the All-Star break - a fact that has overshadowed some of the vintage defensive efforts he's turned in of late. Sunday allowed fans to appreciate all facets of his game.
We've covered the Raptors' lack of three-point shooting with Lowry sidelined at length on this site since he went down. Significantly fewer words would be required to address that problem if Carroll were bombing away at the near-40 percent clip he's posted over the last couple seasons.
Prior to Sunday's outburst, Carroll had made just two threes on 18 attempts in the entire month of March, contributing the Toronto's ugly string of shooting lines since the break. When he's connecting, Toronto is capable of offensive explosions like they posted against Indiana in which they went a steamy 12-of-27 from long range.
Another strong shooting night from Carroll will be a nice silver lining to tonight's loss to Chicago.
Random Bull Career Night Prediction
(Yes I know I've done this section before)
Denzel Valentine has started to do some stuff lately. In five-straight games, the former Michigan State star has double-digit points, capping his first good run as a pro with a double-double in Chicago's win over Utah on Saturday.
Naturally, this means Valentine is primed to drop something along the lines of a 30-point triple-double on 11-of-13 shooting tonight against the Raptors. Someone has to replace Doug McDermott as Chicago's next great Raptor killer. It might as well be one of the few guys who figures to be on the roster for a few years.
Where to Watch: TSN, TSN 1, TSN 4