After a three-day break, the 3-3 Chicago Bulls head to Toronto on Friday night in search of their first road win of the season. Game tips at 6 PM CT/7 PM ET.
It's been an underwhelming start to the 2013-14 campaign for the Bulls, with Derrick Rose struggling in his return to regular season NBA action. While he was successful in shutting down Cleveland Cavaliers star point guard Kyrie Irving (who was 7 for 24 from the field with 16 points and 3 turnovers) on Monday, he left the game in the latter part of the fourth quarter with a minor right hamstring injury.
The good news is Derrick finished the game without a turnover, 16 points and 7 assists. However, in addition to the injury, the 2011 NBA MVP failed to get to the free throw line and was only 8 for 23 from the field. Moreover, Rose is listed as day-to-day and according to the Chicago Tribune, he feels better but might be limited in Toronto. He didn't practice Wednesday and no decision has been made regarding his availability.
With D Rose nursing a sore hamstring, the Bulls will lean heavily on their defense, which is only allowing 91 points per game. They'll also hope Carlos Boozer can pick up where he left off on Monday night, scoring 17 points on 7 for 11 shooting with 7 rebounds, 2 blocks, 4 assists and a steal.
The Raptors come in having played Monday and Wednesday, with an overtime loss to the Houston Rockets and a convincing win against the Memphis Grizzlies. Rudy Gay, who leads the Raptors in scoring, will be an assignment for Luol Deng. Gay lit it up Wednesday night from behind the arc against his former team (4/6 3FG), scoring a team-high 24 points.
Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry has minor injury concerns of his own as he's played all week with a sprained ankle. The injury hasn't limited him, however, as he played 48 minutes in the overtime loss to Houston and logged another 35 on Wednesday. The Raptors are 4-5 and like the Bulls, have been better in their building with 4 of their 5 losses coming on the road (2-1 at the Air Canada Centre).
All and all this is a game the Bulls need to win. This is a game the Bulls should win. The Raptors aren't a serious threat in the Eastern Conference and their fan base is one of many ready to willingly tank games in hopes of landing a top draft pick next year. Thibs' bunch will hope to end their road woes and build some confidence before their rematch against the Indiana Pacers on Saturday night at the United Center.
Since there really isn't a whole lot else of interest, I figured I would provide some statistics of disinterest:
- The Bulls are 36-30 all-time against the Raptors, including the Raptors winning the last two. (h/t LoB)
- This will be the fourth time they've met this year but the first time this season. The Raptors won 97-88 on April 12, 101-91 on April 9th, while the Bulls won in overtime in Toronto on January 16 107-105. (h/t LoB)
- Remember this guy? He's a Raptor. They're paying him $2,690,875 this season (h/t ESPN)
- Tyler Hansbrough too. Please see - Joakim Noah Epic Block on Tyler Hansbrough.
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