This is where the schedule gets scary. The Raptors’ next five games are at Chicago, at Atlanta, at Boston, versus Portland, and at the L.A. Clippers. Fortunately, they’ll have a day off in between each of those games, but all the travel will still take its toll. The Bulls have the league’s best record and are coming off a win in Boston last night. If you’re searching for optimism, then note that all of Chicago’s starters played heavy minutes last night. For Toronto, only Jose Calderon (41 min) and DeMar DeRozan (40 min) played 30+.

Point Guard:

I want to give Calderon a hug. After Friday’s matchup with the zippy Darren Collison, he’s looking at the worst matchup imaginable. Derrick Rose killed the Celtics down the stretch last night despite being a game-time decision with a sprained left big toe. It’s not that I think Jerryd Bayless will be able to slow Rose down, but I sincerely hope he returns tonight if only to give Calderon a bit of rest.

You’re all aware that Mike James is the Bulls’ third-string point guard now, right? Just making sure.

Advantage: Bulls

Shooting Guard:

DeRozan’s play last night has to be a good sign, even if you wish he was as aggressive for the entire game as he was in the opening quarter. Barbosa continues to fire away, going 9-17 in 24 minutes against Indiana after his 11-18 night in just under 29 minutes against Sacramento. With Kleiza working his way back and Bayless missing in action, I understand Barbosa having the greenest of green lights off the bench.

Richard Hamilton has missed 8 of the Bulls’ last 9 games with a groin strain. In his place, Ronnie Brewer has made an argument that Rip isn’t the best shooting guard on the team. Brewer’s obviously a superior defender, but he’s surprisingly contributing on offense this year and is shooting 7-12 from downtown after going 6-27 in 2010-2011. With DeRozan’s inconsistency, I’d be tempted to give this matchup to Chicago, but he knows how to score against this team.

Advantage: Raptors

Small Forward:

Luol Deng never gets enough credit. Yeah, his scoring numbers are down this year, but he’s more than capable on the offensive end he’s playing defense just about as well as any small forward in the league. He’s also averaging 39.3 minutes a game, trailing only Monta Ellis and Kevin Love. With the compressed schedule, can Thibodeau keep pushing him like this?

The most intriguing thing about the Raptors’ small forward rotation is how much and how quickly Linas Kleiza can contribute. After the familiar strong first game back from injury against the Kings, he was barely visible against the Pacers. Expectations should be low for at least a few weeks, but perhaps Kleiza can put some points on the board if Deng’s legs are dragging.

Advantage: Bulls

Power Forward:

Andrea Bargnani is still day-to-day with a strained calf. If he doesn’t play, the Raptors need Ed Davis to contain Carlos Boozer the same way he did David West.

Taj Gibson has actually played lots of fourth quarter minutes over Boozer this year and that shouldn’t surprise you because he’s a starting-caliber player. If Bargnani does go tonight, Gibson’s defense could bother him.

Advantage: Bulls, assuming Bargs is out.

Center:

As much as I love Amir Johnson’s effort every night, I can’t give him this matchup. Joakim Noah’s coming off perhaps his best defensive performance of the season last night and Omer Asik is probably the league’s best backup center on the defensive end. Like Gibson, Asik has received plenty of fourth quarter minutes this season. The main reason for the Bulls’ dominance outside of Derrick Rose is the fact that their four-big rotation is so solid.

I wonder if we’ll see 20 minutes of Jamaal Magloire again.

Advantage: Bulls

The Line:

Chicago by 13. Hmm. Can the Raptors do one basket better than the Wizards? Yes. Wait, Derrick Rose didn’t play in that game? No. Take the Bullies if you’re into that sort of thing.

  • Lorenzo

    This should be a trainwreck

  • BCStefanskiCaseyGots2Go!!!

    Ish Smith!!!!!!!!!!!

    TO PG < CHI PG (DRose never really seems to go off against Jose)

    TO SG = CHI SG (Can DD keep it going? Brewer is a quality player that hustles hard)

    TO SF < CHI SF (Deng has a distinct advantage here over any Raptor SF)

    TO PF < CHI PF (Boozer will be a load in the post for Ed)

    TO C < CHI C  (Amir is a warrior & is going to have to bring against the active Noah)

    TO Bench < CHI Bench (Bosa needs to come up big if Rap's want to compete) 

    Both teams on a b2b may lead to a low scoring, sloppilly played game yet still the Bulls are too strong at home I see Chicago taking a W 99-85.

    Btw- I don't see AB in a rush to return most likely will miss at least 5 games imo- but I'm no doctor.lol

    • cesco

      and I don’t see you in a rush to stop posting your idiotics thoughts here .

    • Raps

      your a dumbass. My pet goldfish knows more basketball then you. GTFO

  • KJ-B

    W.hat W.ill C.asey D.o???  hmmm… It’s easy to be upset with MLSE’s ouster of Triano in favour do-gooder Dwayne BuT who believes that athletes must be accountable and all that other touchy feel ‘Pound the Rock’ stuff… The truth of the matter is, the L has always been more about talented teams like the Lakers, Celts and Heat and less about squads like the  2000’s Pistons… WHY am I saying all of this?

    I was pissed last night when I saw DeRozan sittin’ on de ol bench last night, gettin’ splintered up real good for 7 minutes+ after setting the Dot on fiyah!!! Wasn’t surprise at the lack of offensive genius by do-gooder Dwayne leaving in a ‘character’ guy to close the game @ the end (yup he actually MIGHT think ‘only’ defence wins rings)…. I’ve already bashed his low offensive iQ on here b4–HERE’S WHAT I AM THANKFUL FOR: Casey is actually protecting DeRozan’s long term health in this climate of athletic manaical (better term would be overstressed) pace of games messing with careers because of the lockout–so I actually applaud Casey for ONCE!!!

    • KJ-B

      essentially, the squad ‘should’ have something left in the tank for tonight and hopefully shouldn’t get run out of the gym in CHi Town…Too many minutes for Deebo in the 2nd half though!

  • FAQ

    I really am feeling sorry for poor beleaguered Casey… watching him summoning up effort and enthusiasm for the lugubrious Raptors.

    The only NBA-worthy starters are Bargs and Jose… and the rest are benchers and flops.

    If Casey can keep the Raptors out of the NBA basement, he should get Coach of the Decade recognition..!!!

    (p.s. Is Bargs really that injured or has BC asked him to fake it while shopping him around the league for several warm bodies …. like Gallinari + Fernandez for Bargs.. because Gallo is seeking a contract extension while the Nuggets are stalling…??!!!)

    • cesco

      Where did you read that the Nuggets are stalling . Care to provide the link ? .

      • FAQ

        I read it on hoopshype linking to an article in Denver. Find it yerself.

    • p00ka

      I don’t think the Raps are going to make any impatient moves to trade Bargs with so much invested in him and when he’s finally paying big dividends for the team and city he likes.
      That Denver theory would need more salary coming to the Raps I believe, and I don’t think Denver and Karl want to tamper with the the great results their getting right now with a great young core with serious depth.

      • p00ka

        *they’re getting*
        ugh

      • FAQ

        “… with a great young core with serious depth.”
        ugh

        • p00ka

          Thank you for a response that further highlights the depth of thought, and knowledge, that went into your original post. It’s hard to imagine the motive, but whatever.

    • c_bcm

      The ridiculousness of the idea that bc is going to trade barbs now has been addressed several times, but for your sake I will reiterate it here, again.

      Why now? Bargs has finally become the player that bc always said he’d become (you could argue that his patience with bargs almost cost him his job this past summer). Bc will not trade him now. He’s this team best player, he’s young, he’s got a skill set that other teams cannot easily deal with, and he has finally started to play like an all star. Trading him now would make about as much sense as burning down a deck you just built because you need firewood.

      • FAQ

        Two valid reasons to trade Bargs:

        1. Raptors need more talent and getting a couple of players like Gallo and Fernandez would fill a lot of hole in the starting lineup.

        2. Bargs is a special player who would fit better on a team that can spread the floor for him, because on the Raptors his game is handicapped.

        3. Bargs deserves to play on a better team than wasting his time and talents on the perpetual rebuilding Raptors for the next 5 years.

        4. Bargs is not a ‘go-to’ player because he plays in the front court where he must wait for the ball handling guards to set him up.  Go-to players must be SGs and SFs… not PFs and Cs.

        5. BC must find some decent players for next season’s roster because draft picks are just too unpredictable and requiring development.

        6. Val, Gallo, Fernandez, Jose, DD, Amir, others would put bums in seats and eyeballs on Raptor TV.  The current squad plus Val and draft picks would be intolerable.

        • cesco

          Andrea love TO and Gallo want to resign with Denver . Both GM’s think that they have a franchise player , why trade one for the other . Stop trying to invent scenarios involving Andrea in a trade , it will never happen .

          • p00ka

            What do you expect from an intellect that says:
            1. “Two valid reasons”, then lists 6, none of which are valid.
            2. AB needs to wait for guards to set him up. Can’t be more clueless than that.

            • p00ka

              FAQ, sorry for my grumpiness

              • cesco

                LOL

              • WHAT THE

                you and faq belong in same sandbox lol

                • p00ka

                  Thank you for your typical valuable insights. I notice you keep notes on silly things I say to use days/weeks later. Try that on bball things I say and you might grow some grey matter.

                • WHAT THE

                  what ever you say can and will be used against you POOKA because you think that you know more about the raptors than everyone else here some kryptonite for you “lol lol lol”

                • p00ka

                  This is a discussion board to exchange ideas and thoughts, not a kumbaya campfire circle. Big boys express their own thoughts, whether in agreement or not. Little boys whine, sulk and bait when they don’t get their way. If you have something to say about a specific post of mine, that’s a function of this place. Grow some gonads and grow up.

  • leftovercrack

    The Bulls in Chicago on a back-to-back set of games. This could be funny!

  • p00ka

    This game is going to be fugly. It doesn’t matter how hard fought a game the Bulls played last night, the Bulls defense combined with the Raps very limited power offense? If AB needed to sit last night, and I have no doubt he did, it would be insane playing him tonight. I doubt Rose does much more than sit and watch, seeing as he’s battling turf toe. They don’t need him for this one.

    • FAQ

      Yup… we’re gonna see a lot of the Chicago bench beating the crap out of the Raptors tonight… unless the Holy Spirit enters their bodies and elevates their game to Great Heights.. † † †

  • RapsM

    At least we don’t play any crappy teams that can get their first win against the raps any time soon.

    • WHAT THE

      the player that got hurt a couple of games ago will be back in time for CAVS and WIZ whats his name again?

  • CaseyDaMan

    …….