The Toronto Raptors take on the Chicago Bulls tonight in the second game of their four-game homestand — and it would be really nice to see them notch a W on the home court!
The Raptors are 0-2 at home after a year-and-a-half away, and the home fans are getting a little impatient, I think.
Unfortunately tonight might be their toughest home test yet. The Bulls have remade their roster since last year’s trade deadline, when they brought in Nikola Vucevic; they’ve since added DeMar DeRozan, Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso. They have multiple offensive threats and so far, their defense is holding up too.
Where to Watch:
TSN, 7:30 PM EST
Toronto – Fred VanVleet, Gary Trent Jr., OG Anunoby, Scottie Barnes, Precious Achiuwa
Chicago – Lonzo Ball, DeMar DeRozan, Zach LaVine, Patrick Williams, Nikola Vucevic
Toronto – Pascal Siakam (shoulder – out), Yuta Watanabe (calf – out)
Chicago – Coby White (shoulder – out)
Back, back again
DeMar DeRozan returns to Scotiabank Arena again, this time as a member of the Bulls. His last time here was January 12, 2019, as a member of the San Antonio Spurs — which was also the last Raptors game I personally attended before, well, you know.
DeRozan is averaging 21/6/4 through three games, and seems like a good fit on this team that has a solid big man, a solid point guard, and an All-Star guard.
As always, I’m sure DeRozan will get a huge ovation tonight, as he should. But I hope we’ve reached the end of the DeRozan video board tributes. We’ve had two already!
For real on D?
The Bulls are 3-0 and are holding their opponents to just 94 points per game on just 42% shooting. Pretty dang good, considering most people, myself included, didn’t think this team would be able to guard anyone!
Some caveats apply, of course, most notably that their three opponents were the Detroit Pistons (twice) and the New Orleans Hornets. Those two teams are a combined 0-7.
But it’s a good sign regardless, and against the offensively-challenged Raptors, I expect those defensive numbers will only improve.
Need more on O
The Raptors need to score more. Yeah, yeah, real mind-bending analysis there. But this team has talented offensive players, and it’s definitely odd that they struggle so much in the half court. It’s true that the Raptors don’t have a superstar scorer like a LaVine or even a DeRozan to generate offense when things break down. But they shouldn’t look as bad as they do in the halfcourt.
There’s too much standing around, and not enough screening action. Sometimes I feel like the Raptors don’t run enough pick-and-roll; it’s the most basic set but with two point guards (three, if you want to include Malachi Flynn), some good rollers in Precious Achiuwa and Khem Birch, and a couple of talented wings in Scottie Barnes and OG Anunoby, the Raptors should be able to get more out of it.
Just one VanVleet-Anunoby screen-and-roll, Nick. That’s all I’m asking for tonight.