The calendar has turned to February and the defending NBA Champion Toronto Raptors are in sole possession of the third-best record in the NBA. I will not lie and tell you I expected this back in the pre-season, and I don’t think too many others did either.
It’s been a heck of a season so far, and it only looks to get better today, as the Raptors aim for their franchise record-tying 11th consecutive win.
Now if you want to try and burst my bubble by telling me that 35-14 record is propped up because the Raptors just keep winning against bad teams... you’re exactly right! That’s what good teams do: beat up on bad teams. And let’s not forget: The Raptors have those 28 wins against sub-.500 teams despite their roster being banged up all year.
The Raptors have continued winning despite the injuries. Can they keep it going today?
Where to watch:
TSN, 3:00 EST
Toronto — Kyle Lowry, Fred VanVleet, Serge Ibaka, OG Anunoby, Pascal Siakam
Chicago — Tomas Satoransky, Zach LaVine, Luke Kornet, Coby White, Thaddeus Young
Toronto — Marc Gasol (out - hamstring), Dewan Hernandez (out - ankle), Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (out - ankle), Norman Powell (out - finger)
Chicago — Wendell Carter Jr. (out - ankle), Kris Dunn (out - knee), Daniel Gafford (questionable - thumb), Lauri Markkanen (out - pelvis), Otto Porter Jr. (out - foot), Max Strus (out - knee)
Got Their Number
The Raptors are going for their 11th straight win today, and their 12th straight against the Bulls. If you’ll recall, back when the Bulls were good during the Derrick Rose-Jimmy Butler-Joakim Noah heyday, they had our number, and it seemed like the Raptors would never get over the hump — despite getting close.
Well the Bulls sure got close last time, as a Zach LaVine game-winning buzzer beater fell short. And the Raptors were mostly healthy in that one! This time, though, the Bulls are facing an injury crunch of their own, missing Carter, Markkanen and Dunn, all of whom had excellent games last time out.
Keep Pushing, Pascal
Pascal Siakam is currently averaging 26.5 points per game over his past five games, and yet I still don’t think we’re ready to declare him fully “back” from his injury, are we? Sure, the numbers are there, but there are stretches of games where he floats through, and his explosiveness and ability to finish at the rim still don’t seem to be where they were earlier in the season.
With Norman Powell and Marc Gasol on the shelf, the team needs Pascal’s scoring and playmaking more than ever. The Bulls, despite their record, are actually a decent defensive team (8th in defensive rating) but nevertheless, don’t have anyone on the roster (not healthy, anyway) that can really match up with Siakam. This is a good day for Pascal to continue to build on what has been a great week-and-a-half.
Afternoon Games, Super Bowl Edition
The Raptors are 3-3 in Sunday afternoon games this year (and won an afternoon game on MLK Day as well), but this, of course, is no ordinary Sunday: It’s Super Bowl Sunday!
This is actually the fourth straight year the Raptors have played on Super Bowl Sunday; they’ve won the past three. My feelings about afternoon games are well known — they suck, generally — and I suspect today’s game will be even worse than usual. Most NBA players are also football fans, and I’m sure they wanna get done playing and get back home or to a Super Bowl party to watch the game.
If you wanna make your Sunday afternoon a little more interesting, be sure to check out our Raptor-related prop bets! And gamble responsibly, of course.