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Well, here we are. Just three more games left before the Raps conclude their season, crossing their fingers hoping to land a top-four pick in the draft which, by the way, they have a 32 per cent chance of landing. In all likelihood, Toronto will probably select seventh or eighth unless a trade is made. I think the Raptors could really benefit from adding a talent that doesn’t demand the ball, considering the ball-dominant players already contracted by the team. The obvious void to fill is the five spot, but big men take longer to develop then guards. Anyway, since this is the reality of the situation, the Raptors should really focus on developing young talent… or in other words, improving their odds at a higher draft pick. You know what I mean.
Toronto is in the Windy City tonight to take on the Chicago Bulls, who used the deadline to improve their roster, more than any other team did. Bringing Nikola Vucevic was a huge coup for them and Zach LaVine might actually feel confident about the direction of the team. Tons of changes have been to the Bulls’ regime over the last year or so with a new GM, new coach, and most importantly, a new philosophy. The moves Chicago made at the deadline were meant to get them into the playoffs this year and while that’s not looking too realistic either, at least they’re fielding a competitive team and not wasting LaVine’s talent. Alright, let’s get to it!
The Raps are going to be shorthanded once again tonight (injury report listed below). They meet the league requirement of eight dressed players but the young guys will undoubtedly work through some growing pains. The development of the young Raptors is what’s intriguing about this game. Nick Nurse will be evaluating how they play, looking to see potential rotation pieces and maybe he’ll even ponder about how and where to plug players. Or is that too far into the future? Once again, I fully expect to see Malachi Flynn, Gary Trent Jr., and Jalen Harris with the rock for a majority of the game. It’d be interesting to see what else Khem Birch might pull from his bag, but he’ll have his hands full guarding Nikola Vucevic.
After Washington lost last night, Chicago is only 2.5 games behind them. The odds of the Bulls making the play-in are very, very, very slim and their pick is going to Orlando unless it lands in the top four. With that being said, Chicago’s in a weird position but if they win against Toronto tonight, it’ll improve their chance at a play-in spot. The next two games, which were postponed, are against Brooklyn and Milwaukee so it’s unclear exactly what the Bulls’ goals are in the near future but if they win tonight, they might as well put the pedal to the metal and hit the nitrous for that 10th seed. The Raptors should be prepared for the Bulls to attack early.
Tip-Off: 8pm EDT | TV: TSN1, TSN3, TSN4, TSN5 | Radio: SN590
Kyle Lowry (rest), Fred VanVleet (hip), Pascal Siakam (shoulder), OG Anunoby (calf), Chris Boucher (knee), Paul Watson (knee), Rodney Hood (hand), and Aron Baynes (foot), are all out.
PG: Malachi Flynn, De’Andre Bembry
SG: Gary Trent Jr., Jalen Harris
SF: Stanley Johnson
PF: Yuta Watanabe
C: Khem Birch, Freddie Gillespie
Troy Brown (ankle) is out. Tomas Satoransky (ankle) and Daniel Theis (hip) are day-to-day. More updates will come throughout the day. More updates will come throughout the day.
PG: Colby White, Devon Dotson, Ryan Arcidiacono
SG: Zach LaVine, Garrett Temple, Denzel Valentine, Adam Mokoka
SF: Patrick Williams, Al-Farouq Aminu, Javonte Green
PF: Thaddeus Young, Lauri Markkanen,
C: Nikola Vucevic, Cristiano Felicio
The Bulls are 9.5 favourites. Over/under is 218.5.