The Raptors were coming off of a win against the Chicago Bulls and were slated to face them again as a part of the NBA’s 15 game slate to promote election day. The Raptors handled the Bulls in game 1 of this mini series due in large part to the heroics of Fred VanVleet offensively and the defensive game plan against Raptors legend Demar Derozan. The game plan was simple, send hrd doubles to Demar and force the rest of the Bulls to create for themselves and it worked! But the caveat was that the Bulls were missing All star Zach Lavine in that game and he returned in this one and his presence was felt all night as he dropped 30 points and 5 assists. The Raptors were able to limit Demar Derozan again though, holding him to just 9 points on 7 shots, although he did have 7 assists.
Toronto lost the rebound battle 49-31 after winning it 52-46 in the first game and this wasn’t even the biggest issue. We got essentially the same level of scoring from Fred VanVleet but the Raptors bench and multiple starters failed to provide relief in that area. OG Anunoby, despite another good defensive performance gave you 13 points on 4/12 shooting, Scottie Barnes gave you 5 assist but had 5 points on 2/9 shooting, and the Raptors bench standout Chris Boucher gave you a shocking 0 points on 0/3 shooting. When you have all these poor shooting nights combined on the same night it is a recipe for disaster. With all this said, the final score makes the game seem like it was worse than it actually was. Toronto had staged a mini comeback going into halftime and cut the Bulls lead to 5 and we even got this insane Scottie Barnes posterizing dunk.
SCOTTIE BARNES OH MY GOODNESS 🤯 pic.twitter.com/MhSSkU8v9D— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) November 8, 2022
Coming out of the second half and really most of the game the Bulls just seemed more prepared to handle the hard doubles on Derozan. Instead of the fruitless touches that they got on Sunday, the Bulls seemed to move the ball with more intention and conviction last night. Ayo Dosunmu the sophomore standout of the Chicago Bulls was a prime example of keeping advantages alive last night hitting many threes and taking many lanes to the basket after Demar was swarmed with doubles.
Life during Pascal Siakam’s absence will prove arduous for the rest of the Raptors because Pascal was such a big source of consistent advantage creation it just made life easier. Without him the Raptors don’t really have that consistent guy to just get everyone shots while simultaneously getting his own. Is Fred VanVleet capable of this occasionally? Yes, Can Scottie Barnes be trusted with these primary duties? Occasionally, but it’s just not consistent enough to hang your hat on every night. Without Pascal the Raptors are going to have to win by committee meaning they need a baseline of production from everyone on the team. Last night was a poor shooting night you can’t really account for but the looks Toronto was getting just seemed very difficult. I wouldn’t beat myself up too bad about last night though, I doubt Boucher and Barnes are going to have many nights combining for 5 points and even without Pascal the Raptors still have some of the best defenders in the league.
Luckily for the Toronto Raptors the schedule lightens up for the next few games, so there should be less pressure to have perfect nights on offense. The Houston Rockets are coming to town next game and this should be the perfect game for Toronto the bounce back and get back on track.