Quick Reaction: Raptors 99, Bulls 113

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Raptors 99 Final
Box Score
113 Bulls

B+
P. Siakam38 MIN, 22 PTS, 5 REB, 4 AST, 0 STL, 8-14 FG, 0-2 3FG, 6-8 FT, 0 BLK, 4 TO, -18 +/-

Pascal was uneven to start the game, but not for a lack of energy, showing aggression off the dribble and a nice balance of hunting his own shot and passing actively in the P&R. Seemed to realize in the 2nd quarter that Chicago didn’t have any to guard him, going 7/8 after an 0/3 start with all his points coming in the paint. His role as the primary ballhandler helped to spark the 3rd quarter run for the Bulls, as they hounded him and forced multiple turnovers. It’s hard to fault Siakam as one of the few Raptors who had a strong game, but he is the guy they look to during offensive droughts and he didn’t seem entirely engaged.

D+
P. Achiuwa28 MIN, 6 PTS, 9 REB, 1 AST, 0 STL, 3-9 FG, 0-5 3FG, 0-0 FT, 0 BLK, 1 TO, -11 +/-

24 hours after guarding James Harden, Achiuwa drew DeMar DeRozan duty. Yikes. He got cooked – but who wouldn’t? – as DeMar was consistently able to create separation and drop in midrange jumpers. The 3 ball was not dropping tonight, but one thing that stuck out was Precious’s quick decision making after receiving the ball, making it easier for his sometimes out of control drives to result in good looks at the basket. His playing time started to wither in the 3rd, with Nurse seeming to prefer the Boucher/Birch combo.

C
S. Barnes35 MIN, 8 PTS, 6 REB, 5 AST, 0 STL, 3-9 FG, 0-1 3FG, 2-2 FT, 2 BLK, 3 TO, -20 +/-

Barnes took more of a backseat in this game than he did against the Sixers, although he did have some opportunities to initiate the offence. He made several pinpoint entry passes to his bigs for easy looks, and nearly connected with Chris Boucher on another no-look alley-oop. His Swiss army knife ability was on full display, asked at different times to both check Zach LaVine and protect the rim at times, but he didn’t particularly excel at either one.

B+
K. Birch30 MIN, 11 PTS, 7 REB, 4 AST, 0 STL, 5-9 FG, 0-2 3FG, 1-1 FT, 1 BLK, 0 TO, -3 +/-

Khem looked like himself in the worst way to start the game, starting 1/4 and taking some ill-advised corner 3s (which is to say any corner 3s). However, he played Nikola Vucevic very tough, especially on the perimeter, and his P&R game started clicking with VanVleet, resulting in some quality looks. He was probably the best of the garbage man bigs, cashing in on some messy stuff in the paint and on the offensive glass. He even made a floater!

C+
F. VanVleet37 MIN, 19 PTS, 6 REB, 9 AST, 2 STL, 7-22 FG, 3-12 3FG, 2-2 FT, 0 BLK, 1 TO, -9 +/-

Freddie looked largely healthy to start after missing last night’s game against Philly, bringing plenty of tempo to the offence, both in transition and in the half court. However, he seemed to fade as the game wore on. He deferred to Barnes and Siakam more than usual for ballhandling duties, allowing them to initiate from the top while he camped in the wing or the corner for a spot-up three or secondary action. It created some wide open corner 3s which he doesn’t usually see, and Fred cashed in on them, which was good because his other shots weren’t falling. His pick-and-roll chemistry with Khem Birch is just about the only thing keeping Khem in the starting 5.

C+
T. Young14 MIN, 4 PTS, 2 REB, 1 AST, 2 STL, 2-4 FG, 0-0 3FG, 0-0 FT, 0 BLK, 1 TO, -10 +/-

Not much to write home about for the former Bull. He chased down a P&R pass for a steal and had a nice cross-court pass to Boucher for a triple. For the most part, he played the usual garbage man role around the rim and hanging on the offensive glass.

A-
C. Boucher33 MIN, 19 PTS, 10 REB, 0 AST, 1 STL, 8-14 FG, 1-4 3FG, 2-2 FT, 2 BLK, 1 TO, -13 +/-

This was a characteristic quality game for Chris, bringing tons of energy, running the break on offence and swatting shots on defence. It feels like he’s always on the glass on both sides of the ball. He was visibly frustrated by some of the no-calls he was getting as he went up strong around the rim.

Inc
Y. Watanabe4 MIN, 2 PTS, 2 REB, 0 AST, 0 STL, 1-2 FG, 0-1 3FG, 0-0 FT, 1 BLK, 0 TO, +6 +/-

Got up and rejected Tony Bradley at the rim with a super clean, LeBron-on-Splitter-esque block. Mr. No-Poster does it again!

Inc
D. Banton4 MIN, 0 PTS, 1 REB, 2 AST, 0 STL, 0-1 FG, 0-0 3FG, 0-0 FT, 0 BLK, 0 TO, +6 +/-

This feels like a game where Banton would have been useful with his length and ability to check guards, but Nurse went with a short rotation again.

Inc
S. Mykhailiuk2 MIN, 0 PTS, 0 REB, 0 AST, 0 STL, 0-0 FG, 0-0 3FG, 0-0 FT, 0 BLK, 0 TO, +7 +/-

+7 in 2 minutes? That’s a +168 pace!

Inc
A. Brooks14 MIN, 8 PTS, 1 REB, 0 AST, 0 STL, 3-7 FG, 2-5 3FG, 0-0 FT, 0 BLK, 1 TO, -5 +/-

He hit his first shot, and that was about the extent of the Armoni Brooks experience tonight. Most of his other looks came in late clock situations and garbage time. His energy on both ends was notable, although he got caught in no man’s land at time on D.

C-
Nick Nurse

Nick continued to run with the Precious/Birch tandem to start the game after admitting it didn’t work last game, and it didn’t have much success tonight either. It was always going to be a challenge to check Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan, and everything fell apart when the Bulls started forcing turnovers and running over Toronto before their defence could get set. He burned his challenge early against an offensive foul call on a Boucher euro-step charge which was not successful. The offence characteristically stalled in the 3rd, but no lineup combination seemed to be able to drag some offence out of the tired Raptor legs. He clearly was not happy with the officiating, barking at the refs multiple times. As is often the case, only 7 players played significant time with the game in reach.

Things We Saw

  1. Tired legs were the story of the game, but mental engagement was just as big. The careless passes are one thing when the team is scoring, but another when getting a bucket is a struggle as it can be for the Raptors at times. Matt Devlin made the good point on the broadcast that even though the Raps played a game at home last week, this really felt like the end of a long road trip.
  2. It was nice to see Patrick Williams, playing in his first game since injuring his wrist all the way back in October.
  3. Cleveland took a loss to the Lakers tonight, keeping them only one game ahead of Toronto in the standings.

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