I’m not sure if I’ve cornered the market on narrative driven, monotonous recaps, but this won’t be that. By the time I had jotted down my 6th “Arcidiacono”, the Raptors were up by 25. And the homie, Matt Shantz was lighting a fresh candle in his house for every Malachi Richardson bucket. So… he lit 3 candles. The dim light bounced softly off of his sharp jawline, and… I’m so sorry Matt. (He’s got a history with fan-fiction).
The Raptors demolished the Bulls by 39-points, and if you thought that meant the Raptors were sharp, you’d be wrong. The final score is far more indicative of the Bulls level of play, than it is the Raptors. With that being said, no player logged over 30 minutes, and a win is a win.
The Good Stuff
Fred VanVLeet, Kyle Lowry, and Delon Wright were all thieves on defense. They were constantly forcing the Bulls guards to pick up their dribble, and attacking them with vigour afterwards. Serge Ibaka and Jonas Valanciunas both did a good job of stepping up in ‘pnr’ defense and forcing the Bulls guards into tough decisions.
Danny Green is still playing excellent basketball – insert “throw in” joke here – and contributing at a far higher clip than anyone might have expected. This could be viewed as a negative (why do we need him so much), but players are inherently streaky and the highs are meant to be ridden and celebrated. Green is deserving of celebration, and especially tonight after he shot 7-7 from the field. He was a +35, and his defensive presence is penultimate to the Raptors success on that side of the ball.
Lowry added two more players to the: “I can’t post up Lowry.” club. Wendell Carter Jr. and Jabari Parker are disappointed, but not surprised.
Pascal Siakam is still the Raptors most dynamic player. His ability to out maneuver good defenders, bully small ones, and run around slow ones never ceases to amaze. In addition to his scoring prowess, with how bad the overall team defense the Bulls play is, he chipped in 5 assists. Of course we knew he hadn’t lost his passing touch, but it’s a welcome sight to see him succeed in multiple ways.
Ibaka and Valanciunas were terrific in the paint tonight. The Raptors outscored the Bulls by 20 points in there (58-38) and it was largely on the back of their work. They also took care of the glass, thoroughly dominating the Bulls on the boards. 31-OREB%/81-DREB%. Their work on the inside allowed the Raptors guards to play a far more aggressive style of defense. This had a marked impact in the second half, where the Raptors held the Bulls to 2-12 shooting from beyond the arc.
Decisive in the ‘pnr’ and sharp from downtown, we couldn’t ask for more from “Steady-Freddy”. A little bit of home cooking has him back in fine form. With over 65-percent of his shots coming in unassisted – far higher than last year’s 50-percent mark – he needs more of his looks served to him, to ratchet down his difficulty. With Wright looking more himself everyday, we might expect more games like this (29-percent unassisted) with VanVleet succeeding off-ball.
Jordan Loyd hit two pullup triples, and Lorenzo Brown put up 10 points. The 905-adjace players got a good bit of run in this one, and most of them did well in their minutes. Likely because the Bulls resemble a G-League squad themselves, but let’s ignore that.
The Bad Stuff
Lowry’s jumper is still MIA. Even getting some looks out of the corner, none of which were successful. He still looks very much off-rhythm, and for good reason. He hasn’t been able to hop into any of his pull-ups as his handle has been challenged for a while now. As the team picks up around him, he’ll be granted a bit more room that I’m sure he’ll flourish in. For now, he’s still having trouble inserting his elite shooting into games.
Lowry looked like he rolled his ankle, sprinting to the locker room directly after. He laid in the tunnel for a breather and returned, which is great. Hopefully he’s fully healthy, but man, this team doesn’t need any more injury problems. The wings have taken a massive hit, and I wouldn’t enjoy a Raptors team without Lowry-Leonard-OG-Powell-Miles, that’s an unbelievably tough look.
Even though this was the third largest margin of victory in Raptors history (39-points). The Raptors were incredibly sloppy, turning the ball over 23 times. Getting pretty lucky that, that only turned into 18-points for the Bulls. The Raptors have an absurdly high defensive ceiling, and they won’t reach it or come close if they can’t suffocate teams in the half-court.
The Raptors are still the NBA’s best team, seemingly sustaining what should be the worst losing streak of the season (3). A two day break should be valuable as the Raptors travel to Orlando, and might consider taking a tour of Brook Lopez’ DisneyWorld estate.
Have a blessed day, and always remember to rake your local forest’s floors.