The Bulls almost lost this game and it looked at the end like they really wanted to. It seems like they tried really hard to give the game to the Toronto Raptors, who haven't beaten Chicago since 2014. But somehow (thanks to Jimmy Butler's defense) the Bulls were able to hold on for the 109-107 victory.
BULLS WHAT ARE YOU DOING— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) March 15, 2016
Although they made the game nervy in the end, there were some positives to takeaway from this game. Yes, the Raptors are absolute garbage when it comes to playing the Bulls and Chicago had a meltdown in the final minutes of the 4th. But there are still positives. One of them was the offense tonight, particularly Doug McDermott who seems to own the Raptors this season.
Chicago shot nearly 50% from the field, shooting 49.4% and making 41 of 83 attempts. But the star was easily McDermott, who exploded in the first half for Chicago. He started off seven of seven from the field and had a whopping 24 points in the first half. McDermott shot 81.8% from the field and hit four out of five threes. He couldn't seem to miss in the first half. He was coming off screens and taking advantage of the fact that Toronto decided to go under screens for some reason. Combine that with the fact that he was guarded by James Johnson, who is not that good of a defender and you have McBuckets explode against the Raptors again.
McDermott's first half explosion was a big part of Chicago having a lead at halftime and a lead for much of the game. Although he only scored five points in the second half, he was a big part of the Bulls success. He was a threat from all over the court and even got to the free throw line, hitting seven out of eight from the line. It was also interesting to see Fred Hoiberg play McDermott 36 minutes, the most out of any Bulls player tonight. He got to experience Jimmy Butler type minutes tonight.
Two other takeaways
2. Toronto's backcourt plays great once again
If there is anything that's not trash about the Raptors, it's their backcourt. The backcourt duo of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan are two of the best guards in the NBA and they gave the Bulls all they can handle. Lowry lead the Raptors with 33 points and also had 11 rebounds for a double double. The 11 rebounds were pretty impressive considering Lowry's size and the fact that the Raptors lost Jonas Valanciunas to injury may have had a hand in that. DeRozan wasn't too shabby either as he scored 27 points to outscore the Bulls backcourt 60-30 in this game. The Raptors guards are All-Stars and they certainly brought it tonight.
3. Do the Bulls really want to make the playoffs?
Bulls upset win over Raptors increased their playoff odds 16% per @fivethirtyeight now at 35%— Nate Duncan (@NateDuncanNBA) March 15, 2016
They are a game and a half behind the Pacers for the coveted 7th spot. The reason why the Bulls need to get that 7th seed is so they can play Toronto in the first round and avoid Cleveland in the playoffs. There is still a lot to be decided but one thing is for sure. The game on April 2nd between the Bulls and the Pistons will be huge.