Toronto Raptors Chicago Bulls February 23, 2011

I can’t believe I predicted the Raptors covering the spread last night; I apologize.

Injury Report

Toronto
Reggie Evans – Out
Linas Kleiza – Out

Chicago
When Boozers healthy, you know the God’s are conspiring against you.

Player Report

Jose Calderon
Bayless played fairly well last night considering he couldn’t hit a field goal and turned the ball over 4 times in 21 minutes. It’s kind of maddening for your point guard to play so callously, but he made up for it by getting to the line and getting folks involved, albeit he left it till the fourth quarter when it didn’t matter. Calderon was no better. If the two of them, Calderon mostly, had trouble with Augustin in transition last night,  tonight against Rose will be much worse. Derrick is lightning fast, elite finisher at the rim, a stud in the paint with that sweet floater, shoots the ball well, athletic, sees the floor well and has that look in his eye (the exact opposite look that Bargnani has). In short, the guy is an MVP candidate; good luck.
Box: 8pts 12ast 3rebs

DeMar DeRozan
DeRozan needs to bounce back from a lame-duck performance last night against the Cats. Took him 15 shots to total 14 points, but zero trips to the line; last night he was up against elite-defenders so I’ll give him a pass, but tonight should be better. Luckily he gets Bogans again, who hasn’t had much success defending him in the past. I’d like to see 6 trips to the line tonight for DeMar; enough is enough.
Box: 18pts 4rebs 3ast

Sonny Weems
Best game of the year for Sonny last night. Dude was getting in the paint, attacking the rim, taking good jumpers, and doing a fairly good job on Wallace considering Gerald did end up with 20pts, but only pulled down 6 rebounds, that counts for something, no? I guess not.

Deng, he’s a solid mid-ranger shooter, and his length (6″9) makes it that much harder to block his shot. If there’s a weakness, it’s shooting threes but asking the Raptors defense to play intelligently is like asking A-Dub to write a post sans the Bargnani-hate – ain’t gonna happen.
Box: 13pts 7rebs 3ast

Amir Johnson
As much as I can’t stand Boozer, I have to respect the guy. He’s been a beast since returning from injury and held the fort during Noah’s absence over the last month. He shoots the ball very well, plays big in the post, rebounds very well, and can be a nuisance on defense with those long arms and quick movements. Amir is going to have his hands full between trying to keep a body on Boozer, and having to deal with Noah on the glass.  I don’t know; this has the potential to get really messy, Amir can’t do it alone; and really needs a motivated Bargnani to battle in the paint with him.
Box: 8pts 10rebs 2blk

Andrea Bargnani
Bargnani is going to justify why I would trade him in a heartbeat for Joakim Noah. Last night against Nazr Mohammed he let the guy grab 14 rebounds. Had it not been for the 8 rebounds that Andrea pulled down (I use pulled down loosely), I might have broken my television…hate Nazr. He’s not the kind of hustle player who can outplay anyone, but did just that. Against Noah, tonight, he wont fair any better. I’m not saying Bargnani won’t hit a few shots, he’s good for at least 20 points; but he wont be able to match Noah’s energy and his overall impact on the game is likely to be minimal. Joakim is coming off a month sitting out and the little hustle/heart things that make him such a valuable player will be on display, the Raptors are hoping that he’ll be rusty and have his minutes limited. He may not be able to go 100% for 35min, but he will be a force.
Box: 21pts 2reb

Keys to the Game

Second Game of a Back-to-Back
The Raptors are on the second night of the back-to-back, thankfully it’s a home game. This season, Toronto is 4-8 on the second night of a back-to-back, with all but one of those wins (Dallas) coming against teams who are playing under .500.

Defense/Rebounding
The Bulls are a solid defensive team; 9th in points allowed and 2nd in rebounding. BARGNANI NEEDS TO GRAB SOME BOARDS. Since shutting down Rose will be next to impossible, I’m advocating the Raptors not double anyone. I don’t want to see any drives and kicks for a wide open look at the rim. Also, BARGNANI NEEDS TO BOX NOAH OUT EVERY TIME A BALL GOES UP, NO MATTER WHAT END OF THE FLOOR HE’S ON.

The Line

The Bulls are 8.5 point favourites with an over/under of 196; seems about the right; the Raptors will flap around like a fish out of water, only to piece together a solid run at the end of the game just to mess with us. This game does have potential to get out of control, though.

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