Share Share Bulls vs. Raptors preview and open thread tweet share Reddit Pocket Flipboard Email John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports This has been a really rough week for the Chicago Bulls. A loss to the Dallas Mavericks at home on Monday didnt get things off to the right start, and it has been downhill since. They were absolutely walloped by both the Boston Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks as well.
Granted two of their three opponents in the week have been top contenders in the Eastern Conference. In those games against the Celtics and Bucks, there were segments of the game where you could easily tell the gap in talent between Chicago and those teams. It only shows how shorthanded they are without some of their better young talent and just how much of a mountain they have to climb in order to be competitive in the East. At 4-12 and on a three-game skid, the Bulls are looking for any sort of spark to get them going. However they are welcoming in another Eastern Conference giant to the United Center tonight in the Toronto Raptors.
Torontos record this season is Chicagos but flipped at 12-4. They started the season 12-1 and have been one of the more dominant teams in the entire league. However, they are similar to the Bulls in that they have been on a three-game losing streak as well. A loss to the Pelicans and close losses to both the Pistons and Celtics have Toronto reeling a bit. The Raptors are going to be playing on a back-to-back like the Bulls, too. Yesterday they suffered an overtime loss to Boston, going cold offensively in the extra period.
Toronto Raptors defeat Chicago Bulls 122-83
The last two games have stung a bit for them but this team is good enough to put that past them. They are one of the best in the entire league and have talent up and down the roster.
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As we all know, the Raptors traded for Kawhi Leonard this summer and instantly became one of the most intriguing teams in the league. It gets even better when you realize they acquired Danny Green as a salary filler in that deal. The Raptors announced that Leonard will be out tonight due to rest, but Toronto still offers a ton of problems for Chicagos defense. Kyle Lowry has been spectacular this season, and this will be a tough assignment for Ryan Arcidiacono matched up against him. Arch is going to have to be careful and make sure Lowry doesnt draw him into foul trouble, and he must keep his fellow Villanova product from burning the Bulls from downtown.
The Raptors bench production will also be something to watch for. When Dallas visited the United Center on Monday, their bench was spectacular as well and worked Chicagos second unit. With the likes of Jonas Valanciunas, Fred VanVleet and Delon Wright, Toronto has a lot of talented players and will give the Bulls reserves fits.
In terms of injuries, its more of the same for the Bulls. Lauri Markkanen, Denzel Valentine, Kris Dunn, and Bobby Portis will miss this game for the Bulls, and to make matters worse it looks like Zach LaVine may not play either because of an illness he played through in Milwaukee.
As for Toronto, they will be missing Norman Powell, who is recovering from a left shoulder injury. C.J. Miles and OG Anunoby are also out with a right adductor sprain and a right wrist injury, respectively.
There wasnt a snowballs chance that Saturday night was going to be anything other than abysmal. Already shorthanded, the Bulls were without leading scorer Zach LaVine on the second night of a back-to-back facing the Eastern Conference-leading Toronto Raptors. Even without Kawhi Leonard and on its own tail end of a back-to-back, Torontos roster made the end result feel inevitable. And it was.
Lowrys ankle to be re-evaluated Sunday
The Bulls offense was invisible without LaVine, tallying just 55 points through three quarters and finishing with 22 turnovers and 21 assists. They shot 35 percent from the field while the Raptors scored at will; the 122-83 loss was the fourth worst home loss in Bulls history, and the Raptors largest road win in their history. It was even uglier than the final score.
Serge Ibaka posterizes Jabari Parker as Raptors crush Bulls
In a vacuum the Bulls are 4-13, the fourth worst record in the NBA, with the leagues third worst offense and seventh worst defense. The season is exactly one month old and the Bulls already have two four-game losing streaks, another three-game skid and only wins against four sub-.500 teams with a combined record of 16-45. Its best win came against a 7-8 Hornets team that was finishing a four-game-in-six-nights road trip. Lets go Raptors chants breaking out at home while trailing by 38 is probably a new low in a season thats quickly getting away from the Bulls.
“We have to find a way to stick together through this tough stretch that weve had, and weve got to find a way to build on the good things that we do and start to limit the bad stretches that we have, which are way too many right now,” Hoiberg said. “Got to find a way.”
Its been ugly. But in context, the 4-13 Bulls are playing exactly like a team that a) is missing three of its top players, including its best, and b) is in Year 2 of a bare bones rebuild. The Bulls are one year removed from a 27-win season, the franchises worst in 14 years. Theyre the youngest team in the NBA and on Saturday night played seven players with three years of NBA experience or less.
VP John Paxson told reporters after last season that the tanking Bulls dont ever want to be in this position again. It was an uplifting quote at the time, a sign that Year 2 of the rebuild wouldnt be as bumpy as Year 1. The reality was that, even when healthy, this rebuild is barely in the simmering stages of fully cooking.
Perhaps Paxson meant he didnt want to be playing Cris Felicio 30 minutes a night and be actively benching healthy veterans (to the point that the NBA stepped in). But it certainly didnt mean more wins than losses. Trying to win is different than expecting to win. Las Vegas projected a healthy Bulls team to win 28.5 games for a reason, even in a weak Eastern Conference.
The 2018-19 seasons most important goal was assessing five players: To that point, Zach LaVine is averaging 25 points per game and outplaying the contract some believed he didnt deserve. Wendell Carter Jr. is on pace to be the first rookie since Joel Embiid to average 7.0 rebounds and 2.0 blocks. The other three – Markkanen, Dunn and Portis – are on the shelf and may not be fully up and running until late December or early January.
Only the Denver Nuggets have had more games missed to injury than the Bulls. Denver knew Isaiah Thomas would miss time when they signed him in July as he rehabbed from hip surgery and that rookie Michael Porter Jr. would miss time with a back injury. The Bulls four injuries were sprung on them after media day and training camp began.
By John Jackson, Associated Press CHICAGO (AP) — Fred VanVleet scored 18 points, Danny Green added 17 and Serge Ibaka had 16 points and four blocks, sending the short-handed Toronto Raptors to a 122-83 rout of the Chicago Bulls that snapped a three-game losing streak Saturday night (Sunday, PHL time).
The result is them changing lineups, rotations, responsibilities and roles on the absolute fly. Cameron Payne hadnt played significant minutes in 10 days and had 4 points in 22 minutes as a starter on Saturday. Robin Lopez and Felicio remain in a coin flip each night for backup duties behind Carter.
The truth is its really not important from a long-term perspective, which is entirely what the Bulls are focused on. Maybe Justin Holiday plays well enough to be traded. That isnt going to move the needle on the rebuild. Dont focus on the micro during a macro rebuild.
Markkanens magical rookie season, Carters impressive start and LaVine hitting everything in sight seems to have increased team expectations. The reality is the roster is still far from competing, even when healthy. The core pieces appear to be there. Theyre also 23, 21 and 19 years old.
The goals will change when Hoibergs coaching with a full deck. LaVine and Markkanen must develop a two-man game on the perimeter that punishes defense with a pick-your-poison effect. Dunn and Carters pick-and-roll progression will be something to watch, as will Dunns perimeter shooting. Bobby Portis is playing for millions of dollars, either on the open market or in Chicago.
Following the victory, head coach Nick Nurse told reporters that he doesnt think the injury is serious and he will be re-evaluated on Sunday.
The rest is fluff. Theyre supposed to look bad right now. The roster wasnt exactly built to withstand injuries to three major contributors. How many in the league are?
The 32-year-old Lowry left the court and appeared to be in discomfort in the tunnel, but eventually came back to the bench.
Thats not to say there havent been negatives. Jabari Parker has been a bust. Theres no denying the Bulls swung and missed on paying the Chicago native $20 million only to take low-percentage shots, jog back on defense and own up to very little of either. Cameron Payne had an opportunity to showcase his ability as a former Lottery pick and cement his status as the backup behind Dunn. It didnt happen. Chandler Hutchison to this point has been underwhelming, but like the core pieces he should have a larger role when the calendar flips to 2019.
Theyll have another Lottery pick in a draft class that looks absolutely star-studded. Maybe it wont be Zion Williamson. But after drafting Markkanen and Carter seventh overall in consecutive drafts, theres optimism they can find another gem regardless of where they draft. Theyll also have a boatload of money in free agency. Maybe it wont be Kevin Durant. But Chicago looks liked a much more desired destination than it did 12 months ago.
It certainly can be frustrating to watch given the future seems so far away. But this is what the front office signed up for. The time to evaluate the roster – and even Hoiberg – wont come for another few months. If youre truly upset with how the Bulls are playing down three of their top players, youve either wagered on them to win 29 games or are Jabari Parkers agent.
For now, its about withstanding the lows and searching for the progression that ultimately will lead to the highs. Take a deep breath, Bulls fans: the rebuild is where its supposed to be.