“Covering the gaps a little bit better, rotating a bit better,” Casey said, critiquing the defence. “You can always get back in transition defence better.” That could be tested on Friday. The Bulls have been one of the worst offensive teams in the league this year, but Derrick Rose always poses danger for an opposing defence. Rose, who is questionable to play because of a sore hamstring, is still trying to find himself after missing the entirety of last season because of knee surgery. His 38% accuracy from inside the restricted area is particularly off. The league, though, is just waiting for Rose to re-discover his MVP stride.
Derrick Rose is questionable to play with a date with division rival Indiana looming on Saturday. Team has dropped all three road games so far and won three at the United Center. Defence remains a pivotal strength — Tom Thibodeau is considered the league’s premier defensive coach — but the offence, even with Rose back, has been dismal (28th in points per game, 25th in offensive rating). One area where the defence hasn’t excelled is guarding long shots. Opponents shoot a league high 42.4% from three against the Bulls, but just 40.9% on two-pointers (second-lowest in the NBA).
Defense hasn’t been the issue in Toronto and in this week’s games against Houston and Memphis, the Raptors held both of their opponents to just 87 points in regulation time. In a battle between 2 teams that like to control the pace, the Bulls will be hoping Noah starts to come around and Rose can play and hopefully start to find his touch again. The Raptors will be hoping their improved shooting didn’t miss the flight home from Memphis and sticks around for the rest of the season. A high scoring affair doesn’t seem likely.
The Raps broke a century in scoring for the second time this season against Memphis (doing it in Houston doesn’t count, as it was OT), and won’t make it three against a tough defensive squad like the Bulls. I think this game will go according to script, with the Raps running enough to wear down the Bulls. Toronto will emerge with a 94-91 victory.
There are many reasons why a Lowry trade would be easier to pull off than anything involving Gay or DeRozan. Lowry has a relatively cheap ($6.2 million) expiring contract, making potential trades easier to construct. Most importantly, he could actually help some teams. He doesn’t seem like the easiest guy to play with, but a contending team or a team desperate to make the playoffs could use him. Here’s a possible trade scenario, with the caveat that more options will open up after December 15, when most players signed this summer will become trade-eligible.
TYLER HANSBROUGH (Raptors): He’s been exactly what I expected as the Raps’ third big man. He plays all out all the time and is someone you can count on every night to give you all the effort plays. He’s a terror on the offensive glass and smartly only takes shots (56 per cent) he can make. Does a terrific job drawing fouls and for a big man he’s an exceptional free throw shooter (84 per cent) which is rare. He is what he is, yet I like that – you always know what you’re getting vs. the roller-coaster ride that you get with other players.
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- Gameday: Bulls @ Raptors, Nov. 15