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Game Thread #34: Bulls vs Toronto Raptors

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BlogABull: Home of the 2-game winning streak.

Well...that was sorely needed. Skiles listened to the masses (or his own pulsating super-brain) and put a new lineup on the court for the weekend, and the result was back to back wins over quality teams in Milwaukee and Memphis.

There has been one weak link in the new rotations though, and that has been Mike Sweetney. Sweetney's my guy, but he has definitely struggled lately simply staying on the court, a problem that's plagued him his whole young career. Tyson Chandler is still day-to-day, so until he's back Mike has a chance to get back in Skiles' good graces, especially given his dislike for changing lineups. I completely agree with that, but the 3-guard shenanigans were not working, glad to see them gone.

Next up is Toronto, a team I enjoy watching because I read so much about them. And there's also the fun in playing a team with Jalen Rose on it, and rooting for him to get on the court to watch his team suffer in the wake of his delusional grandeur.

While they started out the season terribly, the Raps were near .500 in December, and just Sunday morning almost had a 6 game winning streak before former Raptor Vince Carter squelched that dream in the final seconds. Their star is Chris Bosh, a player who the Bulls have no real answer for. Like Memphis' Pau Gasol, Bosh is the type of big man who can face up and drive on the Bulls' slower frontcourt defenders, meaning poor Mike Sweetney may see more early foul trouble after all. With Chandler out, Darius Songaila actually has shown to be their best option against such players, simply because at the very least he doesn't foul them.

To complement Bosh is combo guard Mike James, who's been passed around the league despite being pretty damned good. Not a pure point, but a great defender and one who can share the offensive load with Bosh (while taking many crunch-time shots). Rookie Jose Calderon mans the point (with an even higher Assist Ratio than Chris Duhon), and with him I'm also excited to get my first full look at fellow rookies Charlie Villanueva and Joey Graham, who have all had their standout games so far this year.

Well 'excited to get a look' does not extend to hoping they do too well. The Bulls have owned Toronto lately, and on paper have too many weapons for the Raptors to handle. Their interior defense is very soft (although Sweetney gives fellow lug Rafael Araujo a relatively good matchup for once), and overall they're 2nd to last in Defensive Efficiency. Hopefully the new lineup will continue to work, and the wins keep rolling in to counteract what happened these past few weeks. Remember, they're still 2-10 in their last 12 games.