[We have the whole slew of upcoming games available to preview if you’re interested. -yfbb]
Air Canada Centre in Toronto
6:30 p.m. - WGN
Monitoring the standings should be every Bulls fan’s new favorite hobby, so I’ll save you a few extra clicks with this consolidated standings update.
Now to the actual game tonight. It’s sad to say, but the Bulls dominating the Toronto Raptors is a thing of the past. From Feb. 19, 2014 until Feb. 14, 2017, the Bulls beat the Raptors 11-straight times. The streak was broken in a thrilling overtime game on March 21, 2017 and the Raptors actually made it two in a row against the Bulls when they beat Chicago 117-100 in the season opener on Oct. 19.
The Raptors two best players had off games. Kyle Lowry was 4-for-7 from the field, but only scored 12 points while DeMar DeRozan was 2-for-9 from the field with 11 points. Instead, bolstered by 23 and 22 point performances by Jonas Valanciunas and C.J. Miles respectively, the Raptors shot 44.8 percent from behind the 3-point line to put away the Bulls in what was mostly a noncompetitive game after the first quarter, after which the Raptors went on a 22-2 run against the Bulls bench.
That bench unit has been a problem all season, and as you can see below that perennially underrated Robin Lopez is extremely valuable to this team even though his misses at the basket cost the Bulls the game Saturday night against the New Orleans Pelicans. Justin Holiday similarly gets credit here for being...not his backups.
Your very early on-off leader is Robin Lopez. The Bulls have been 40 points per 100 possessions better w/ him on the floor. pic.twitter.com/BxeqPBgowp— John Schuhmann (@johnschuhmann) November 7, 2017
The game tonight pits the eighth-best offense in the NBA (Toronto Raptors have a 106.7 offensive rating) against the sixth-best defense in the NBA (Bulls have a 101.0 defensive rating; not a typo). Something has to give. Read Stephen Noh’s analysis of the Bulls overachieving defense to make some sense out of it, because it’s stunning to me as well.
Despite underwhelming for most of the season, Paul Zipser returns to the starting lineup out of necessity after David Nwaba went down with a major ankle sprain on Saturday against the Pelicans. The Bulls also recalled Antonio Blakeney from the Windy City Bulls.
The other big news for this game is the #thereturn of Bobby Portis, as his 8-game supension for face-rearrangement is over. Portis will come off the bench as the backup power forward as head coach Fred Hoiberg attempts to reintegrate him back into the Bulls established rotation.
“It’s important to get him back out there,” coach Fred Hoiberg said after the team’s midday shootaround at the Air Canada Centre. “The big thing for him is to play with great energy. Rebound at a high level. He is one of our better screeners. He puts pressure on the rim with his rolls. He can get out and run the floor, which is something we need right now to get some easy baskets.”
Also tomorrow probably be prepared for another Markkanen breakdown because talking about him consumes about 50 percent of the content on this site. Jokes aside, he recently reached another rookie milestone.
Lauri Markkanen is 2nd Bull in franchise history to score 13 points in each of his 1st 8 NBA games (Jordan - 13+ in first 84 career games).— Jeff Mangurten (@JeffGurt) November 7, 2017
And he has a good chance to keep up his pace of hitting more threes than any rookie in NBA history.
Like every other night, a competitive loss where we see growth from a bunch of the young guys is ideal.
Also, does anybody else think the Raptors should bring back those trippy, 3-D graphics they used to have on each baseline? Worrying that somebody was going to kill themselves “tripping” over those was half the fun of watching games in Toronto.