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Bulls vs. Raptors preview, start time, lineups

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Mike Lawrie

[Thanks to xshwanger for today's game preview. This is a 7pm start on TNT. -yfbb]

Will Mike Dunleavy or Terrence Ross drink more cups of water during the game?

Next up, the Chicago Bulls (6-2) face the Toronto Raptors (7-1) in what should be the biggest challenge of the new season. Toronto is currently leading the league in scoring and 3rd in offensive rating while also sporting a top 10 defense. Small sample size, and it could mean jack shit, but they're looking like one of the top 3 teams in the East so far.

Meanwhile, the Bulls have been feasting on shitty teams while trying to sort of mold their identity into one that makes sense. I guess that's the only way I can really describe them right now. It's like being stuck in a Bizarro World for Bulls fans. Right now, the Bulls are hitting threes at a high clip (39.8%, 3rd in %), scoring well (6th in scoring, 5th in O-Rating), and have dropped to second to last in defensive rebounding rate while lagging behind in offensive rebounding rate at 24th. Consequently, their defense has fallen closer to the middle of the pack. While it's a little concerning, their rebounding will (hopefully) bounce back to better levels as Noah continues to recover from offseason knee surgery, Gasol gets used to playing with everyone, Rose rounds into form, and Taj fully recovers from his ankle sprain. Nevertheless, they're still 6-2 so I should keep the bitching to a minimum and move on with this "what-have-you".

Let's go over the rosters of the teams:

PG Kyle Lowry

vs

PG Derrick Rose

Advantage: Bulls

I'm still taking a healthy Rose over Lowry in a head to head matchup. Rose is bigger, stronger, and faster (Oh god, I'm specifically trying to not evoke Stacey King here) than Kyle Lowry. While Lowry plays larger than his 6 foot frame, Rose should still be able to make things difficult for him on both ends. Lowry is certainly much better than the likes of Brandon Jennings and DJ Augustin, so it'll be a nice test for Rose to see if he can keep up the scoring and distributing against better competition. Let's face it...the Pistons are a bastion of shit.

SG: DeMar DeRozan

vs

SG: Jimmy Butler

Advantage: Bulls

This has the potential to be the best matchup of the night. DeRozan is going to shoot a lot (~17 FGA/G) and Butler one of the best wing defenders in the game. Is Jimmy's improvement on offense for real? If he can continue to somewhat replicate what he has been doing so far, he'll be considered one of the best SGs in the NBA (I mean, it IS a weak position). DeRozan, while somewhat inefficient, can score at a high rate and has steadily improved as a defender. Look for these dudes to attack each other often on both ends.

SF: Terrence Ross

vs

SF: Mike Dunleavy

Advantage: Tie

I couldn't decide whether to put the "Jr" on the end of Dunleavy's name, but decided against it. This is kind of a tough matchup to call since I think Ross could be a bit too fast/athletic for Dunleavy, but Mike has played some good defense this year. It probably helps that he's almost 6'10" and built like a palm tree. I couldn't care less about this matchup.

PF: Amir Johnson

vs

PF: Joakim Noah

Advantage: Bulls

Even with Jo still trying to get back to normal Jo, he is still better than Amir Johnson, Patrick Patterson, or the dickweed known as Tyler Hansbrough. As Jo gets healthier and adjusts to playing PF, I think we'll start to see the old Jo more and more. Hell, we got a pretty decent effort from him versus a strong frontline in Detroit when he had 13 points, 14 rebounds, 6 assists, and 0 turnovers.

C: Jonas Valanciunas

vs

C: Pau Gasol

Advantage: Bulls

This will likely be a good matchup since Valanciunas actually has the size (7,0" 255) to match up against Gasol (7'0" 250) in the low post. Besides that, Pau is just far more talented than Valanciunas. The only guy with comparable size is Greg Stiemsma, and he isn't very good. Gasol will flail around like a Greek god and all will be well.

My Opinion...man

The Bulls will have their hands full at Toronto. Toronto sports a 5 man bench unit of Lou Williams, Greivis Vasquez, James Johnson, Patrick Patterson, and Tyler Hansbrough with smatterings of Stiemsma, Landry Fields, and Chuck Hayes. The Bulls always trot out Aaron Brooks, Kirk Hinrich, and Taj Gibson. Lately, the question has been whether or not the Bulls rookies (Mirotic, McDermott) were receiving enough playing time.Time will tell as Tom Thibodeau is the man. This game will be a good gauge for where the Bulls (and Rose) are in their development together as a team.

Derrick Rose has been dealing with a lot of bullshit and I think everyone would mostly shut the hell up if he just stayed healthy and was able to play. If that happens, people will get happier and the world won't actually split into two. If he can continue to put up numbers like he did against Detroit (24 pts, 7 assists), most of these odd bumbling morons will suddenly become Derrick Rose fans again.