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Time to see who’ll step up, as Raptors take on Bulls at home; start time, preview and more

With a couple key players potentially out for Toronto, someone is going to have to step up and play well above their traditional role for the Raptors to pull a win out.

Toronto Raptors v Chicago Bulls Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

A dark cloud hovers over tonight’s game between the Toronto Raptors and Chicago Bulls. A game which gives the Raptors a chance to jump back to two games over .500, and begin to extend their gap between their win and loss column again.

This cloud, is the news of the Pascal Siakam injury.

Siakam has showed up and showed out since game one of the season against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Playing like a true MVP candidate, Siakam has been the best player on the floor for the Raptors, for arguably every single game.

Tonight, the Raptors likely won’t get that luxury. In the midst of another stellar performance, Siakam slipped on a wet spot while dribbling the ball at the top of the key late in the third quarter Friday night.

Just like when someone had to step up in the absence of Fred VanVleet, someone is going to have to step up even bigger tonight as Siakam enters the game doubtful.

Where to watch:

Sportsnet 1, 6:00 PM ET


Toronto Raptors — Scottie Barnes, OG Anunoby, Gary Trent Jr., Christian Koloko, Malachi Flynn

Chicago Bulls — Ayo Dosunmu, Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan, Patrick Williams, Nikola Vucevic


Toronto Raptors — Khem Birch (questionable – knee), Pascal Siakam (doubtful – groin), Fred VanVleet (questionable – back)

Chicago Bulls — Lonzo Ball (out – knee), Andre Drummond (out – shoulder), Derrick Jones Jr. (probable – thumb), Zach LaVine (questionable – knee), Coby White (out – quadricep)


A familiar face comes into town tonight. A legend, who Raptors fans could not wait to tune in to watch every single night during his time in Toronto. One who showed up night after night with his partner in crime by his side, a partner who eventually went on to win a championship with someone new. He was very sad to leave Toronto, but has been thriving as a member of the Bulls. We are excited to welcome back, Chuck Swirsky!

We are also excited to welcome back DeMar DeRozan, who is having another great year, but one that is slightly worse than last.

Last season, DeRozan was in the MVP conversation for the large majority of the year. He got the nod to start in the all star game, and put up career numbers in multiple statistical categories, all while leading his team to a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

This year, the Bulls have had a similar type season to the Raptors. They head into tonight with a 5-5 record. A weird injury bug has hit the team, and just kind of lingered, with Lonzo Ball starting the year on the bench with knee surgery, and Zach LaVine strangely hopping in and out of the lineup due to injury management.

Tonight, there is the potential that Toronto will be missing the only two guys to ever make an all star team on this roster. This should leave ample room for players like Scottie Barnes, and O.G. “getting a bigger role” Anunoby to show the Raptors faithful (and front office) that they are capable of leading a team to some regular season victories.

We do not currently have timetables for either player’s return, but the fact that neither is a labelled as an automatic “out” should leave some room for hope of a quick one.

Last game, Toronto lost a 111-110 heartbreaker to the Dallas Mavericks, and a man who is truly gunning for his first career MVP in Luka Doncic. A comeback from the Raptors fell short due to the stunning shot making by Doncic.

With Siakam out, Toronto didn’t have anyone who could match Doncic offensively, even though Anunoby put in a fantastic effort. Barnes on the other hand, put in a great effort in the fourth quarter, after some unexciting minutes in the first three.

A lot of people wanted to place Barnes on all star teams, and all star talk heading into the year. Well, tonight will be his night to show why he deserves to be slotted in that conversation.

He’s either “only 21” or “deserves to be an all star” there is no between. Obviously, yes, both can be factually true, but the first one can’t be used as an excuse for a lack of production leading towards the latter.

The Toronto Raptors saw the Chicago Bulls in the pre season, and one thing I pointed out in the game recap is the way that the Raptors attacked the Bulls. We saw Chicago place Nikola Vucevic on Barnes, as his primary defender.

This allowed Toronto to attack with Barnes, or run some versatile pick and rolls with anyone on the court attacking Vucevic as he switched onto them. Tonight, Toronto likely won’t get that luxury.

The Raptors have commonly started the rookie, Christian Koloko in place of VanVleet. Even if VanVleet is back tonight, Koloko will likely still start in place of Siakam, matching up with Chicago, showing the Bulls a more traditional look.

Koloko has been solid, and Toronto has looked good with him on the floor, giving them more rim protection. It just undeniably takes away some of the Raptors’ versatility and surprise factor offensively.

I would look for Toronto to attack the perimeter defenders of Chicago tonight. We are likely going to see Patrick Williams (Chicago’s only good—big defender) cover Scottie Barnes, and dare Anunoby to create against DeRozan or LaVine.

Last game, we saw Anunoby’s ability to create offensively. Even though he still looks slightly awkward putting the ball on the floor, he uses his strength and shooting ability to produce offensively.

On the other end of the floor, Anunoby will likely receive the assignment of guarding five-time all star, DeRozan. DeRozan has cemented himself year after year as one of the best scorers in the league. He became just the 50th player in league history to score 20,000 points just a few weeks ago.

Tonight is also an opportunity for the guys on the Raptors’ bench to showcase why they deserve a spot in the rotation. Toronto is a deep team this year, and there are only so many minutes to go around.

It seems like many guys get opportunities, but only a few get them consistently. Tonight, Nick Nurse may not have the advantage of keeping a tight leash on some of the guys with the two key players missing for the Raptors.

It’s always a fun one when DeRozan comes to Toronto. With tonight being game one of yet another back to back agains the same opponent, it will be interesting to see how the Raptors approach game one, and adjust to game two.

Both of these teams have high expectations for themselves this year. Let another tough Eastern Conference battle begin!