The game is postponed due to health and safety protocols. Here’s the preview anyway:
The Bulls-Raptors game tonight has been postponed.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) February 28, 2021
Over the last four years, playing the Chicago Bulls has been a comfortable sanctuary for the Raptors. They have defeated Chicago 12 straight times. Toronto’s last loss to Chicago was on Valentine’s Day in 2017.
But these are not the same Bulls. It’s the first time in those same four years you can talk about Chicago making the playoffs without catching side glances. They are 8-6 in February, with their latest loss coming off a blown 14-point 2nd half lead to the Phoenix Suns. First time all-star Zach LaVine is averaging career-highs across the board, which include 28.7 ppg (6th in the NBA), 52.4 percent shooting from the field and 44.2 percent from three. These numbers are especially impressive considering LaVine takes a high number of perimeter shots, many of which are contested. The Bulls second leading scorer, Lauri Markkanen (19.1 ppg) has only played 14 games this season. Markkanen has been out for over three weeks with a shoulder injury. Otto Porter’s ailing back has limited him to just one game in February. Yet LaVine’s shooting numbers are even better this month (53.8% FG, 48.1% on threes).
The Raptors also have a number of players on hot streaks. Kyle Lowry is coming off his second triple-double of the month and has shot at least 50 percent from the field in seven straight games. Over his last six, Lowry is averaging 21.3 points, shooting a scorching 61.7% from the field and 57.6% from three. Norman Powell is enjoying his second-best scoring month of his career, averaging 22.0 ppg. He’s also getting to the line over four times a game and hitting 94.9 percent of his attempts. Then there is Fred VanVleet. He’s made at least five three-pointers five times in February. Three of those have come in the last four games.
Expect the Raptors to throw a lot of different looks at LaVine, since the Bulls are lacking other consistent offensive threats. Despite his elevation to elite-level scorer this season, his playmaking is still a work in progress. LaVine ranks fifth in turnovers per game (3.9), so traps and maybe the box-and-one could lead to fast breaks the other way. VanVleet potentially matching up defensively against LaVine is especially interesting, considering Zach’s first all-star nod took a spot away from Fred.
Despite Pascal Siakam’s announced absence until at least the all-star break and the majority of the coaching staff under protocol, opportunity still lies ahead. This is Game three of nine straight under .500 opponents for the Raptors. Now would be a nice time to go on a run and pull away from the hilarious log jam of East teams hovering around the 4-12 seeds.
Tipoff: 7:00pm EST | TV: SN | Radio: SN 590 The Fan
- PG: Kyle Lowry, Malachi Flynn
- SG: Fred VanVleet, Terence Davis, Matt Thomas
- SF: Norman Powell, DeAndre Bembry, Patrick McCaw
- PF: OG Anunoby, Yuta Watanabe, Stanley Johnson
- C: Chris Boucher, Aron Baynes, Donta Hall
- PG: Coby White, Tomas Satoransky
- SG: Zach LaVine, Ryan Arcidiacono
- SF: Garrett Temple, Denzel Valentine
- PF: Patrick Williams, Thaddeus Young, Cristiano Felicio
- C: Wendell Carter, Luke Kornet, Daniel Gafford