By: Josh Weinstein
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The Chicago Bulls (2-6) return to the Air Canada Centre for the second time this season to battle it out against the Toronto Raptors (5-4). Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30PM ET. Last time these two teams met back on October 19, the Raps won 117-100.
A matchup against the Bulls would be one the Raptors dreaded in recent years. After all, the Bulls are the same organization that won a whopping 11 straight games versus Canada’s lone NBA franchise over a nearly three-year period (February 19, 2014 – February 14, 2017). It feels like eons since then, though, as much of the star-power the Bulls once possessed left the windy city over the years. Teams no longer dread playing the Bulls. Instead, they welcome them to town with open arms.
The squad from Chi-Town own the Association’s lowest scoring offence as they score a measly 91.9 points per game. If it weren’t for the Sacramento Kings, that points per game average would be a full six points fewer than the next lowest scoring team. The Bulls do have a top-10 level defence so far this season, but their offensive woes are so troublesome that it hasn’t really mattered.
Given the inferior opposition they’ll be facing, the Raptors are understandably favoured entering tonight. Even so, there are some kinks that need fixing within the club.
Figuring out the most effective starting lineup going forward is crucial. In recent games, the five-man unit of Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, Norman Powell, Serge Ibaka, and Jonas Valanciunas has struggled mightily, especially in comparison to how the bench players’ have performed. While some of the starters’ challenges can be blamed on Lowry’s slow start, or on the duo of Ibaka and Valanciunas still nursing themselves back to full health, there are significant chemistry issues that need addressing nonetheless. Your best lineup can’t be exclusively filled with reserves rather than the team’s superior talent making the big bucks.
Also, I’m shocked that even with all the three-point attempts the Raptors miss on a game-by-game basis, the team still is able to trot out a top-ten NBA offence. It will be interesting to see whether that lasts throughout the season.
Projected starting lineups:
- PG Kyle Lowry
- SG DeMar DeRozan
- SF Norman Powell
- PF Serge Ibaka
- C Jonas Valanciunas
- PG Jerian Grant
- SG Justin Holiday
- SF Paul Zipser
- PF Lauri Markkanen
- C Robin Lopez