[Need game previews this week! -yfbb]
Start Time: 6 p.m. CT
Where: Air Canada Centre, Toronto
TV: ESPN, CSN Chicago
Bulls: Dwyane Wade (Elbow), Cameron Payne (Foot/D-League/Bad)
Raptors: Kyle Lowry (Wrist)
Projected Starting Lineups
Bulls: Rajon Rondo, Jimmy Butler, Paul Zipser, Nikola Mirotic, Robin Lopez
Raptors: Cory Joseph, DeMar DeRozan, DeMarre Carroll, Serge Ibaka, Jonas Valanciunas
The Bulls (33-37) are trash, but Tuesday night they’re playing the Tortrashto Trashtors (41-29), so maybe Chicago won’t actually be trash in this one.
Yes, the Bulls have inexplicably won 11 games in a row against the team north of the border, one of several utterly ridiculous streaks this silly team owns (hi, #TNTBulls). The Bulls won both prior meetings this season at the United Center, with one featuring a huge second-half Trashtors collapse and the other just a general whoopin’ right before the All-Star break in a game that didn’t include Dwyane Wade, Nikola Mirotic, Paul Zipser for Chicago (Patrick Patterson was also out).
The last time the Bulls played up in Canada was last March, when Trashtors killer Doug McDermott was at his Dino-killing finest with 29 points on 9-of-11 shooting. The Bulls won’t have their infamous Trashtors slayer since he’s now plying his craft in OKC (and still showing why he’s no good), but I’m sure some other random Bull will pick up the slack and drop 25 points out of nowhere. I would’ve taken Bobby Portis, but two huge games in a row may be a bit too much for him.
So this will probably be the day Michael Carter-Williams or Paul Zipser (or both?) shoot 10-of-12 from the field to help keep the Bulls’ playoff hopes alive. The Bulls are 10th in the East, one game behind the Pistons (No. 8) and Heat (No. 9). It’s a pretty miserable existence, really, a thought echoed by Fred Hoiberg. We agree on something!
The Trashtors have kind of been meandering along for months since their red-hot start, although they’re 8-5 coming out of the break without Kyle Lowry and have improved on defense with the additions of Serge Ibaka and P.J. Tucker. They were a middling 16th in defensive rating pre-All-Star break, but they’re fourth post-ASB. So while the loss of Lowry has hurt their once-historic offense, the defensive bump has helped mitigate that and they sit just a game behind the Wizards for the No. 3 seed.
So, this game is important for both teams when it comes to playoff positioning. It’s also a game the Trashtors SHOULD win given they’re the better team (even without Lowry) and at home against a Bulls squad that sucks on the road, but basically nothing in this series lately has made much sense. A Bulls win wouldn’t be surprising in the slightest, and while Bulls wins kind of annoy me at this point, it’s always fun to clown the Trashtors.