The Toronto Raptors look to upset another NBA powerhouse in the Chicago Bulls who may be without Derrick Rose, who was diagnosed with a sore hamstring. Coach Tom Thibodeau and the Bulls (3-3) had mentioned Rose hasn’t participated in shoot-around, and he is labeled as unlikely for the game.
Unfortunately for the fans hoping to see Rose’s return, they may not have that opportunity, however the Raptors (4-5) will have an advantage with the opposing team missing their best player.
Cage’s 5 Keys To The Game
1. Control The Glass
The Chicago Bulls are always known as one of the best rebounding teams, mostly due to their bigs in Joakim Noah, Carlos Boozer, Taj Gibson, and wing players that can also get on the glass in Jimmy Butler and Luol Deng. The Bulls are currently 8th in rebounding with 44.8 rebounds a game.
Hope for Jonas Valanciunas, Amir Johnson, and Tyler Hansbrough to continue to get after it, most especially in this game.
2. Guard The Paint
If the Raptors can hold Boozer and Noah out of deep post position, and can take away any Deng and Butler penetration, they’ll have a major advantage, because Chicago is near the bottom of the league in their offense outside of the paint. Chicago is 29th in the league from the field, shooting only 38%, and poor three point shooting with 26%. The Raps will then be able to make the Bulls stray away from their comfort zone, and make them have to adapt to the Raptors’ style of play, rather than Dwane Casey having to go small, and smaller, and even smaller.
3. Find Jonas Valanciunas early
The team has made a major effort in trying to get Jonas going early in games, and it’s been successful so far. If JV can establish early on, it will make guys like Noah (tough defender) possibly get in foul trouble, and Boozer (awful defender) to try and spend some energy on defense. Jonas has been a bright spot for this team so far, having an offense that establishes itself as “inside-out” will help give Rudy Gay, DeMar DeRozan, and Kyle Lowry better looks.
4. Don’t Turn The Ball Over
Rudy, DeMar, Kyle, we’re all looking at you. Committing turnovers against the Bulls is literally a basketball suicide; the Bulls still have, arguably, the best defensive system in the league under their great defensive coach. Giving Chicago easy baskets, and then having them reset their defense will take the Raptors out of any rhythm they have, or are looking to establish.
5. Move The Ball.
The Memphis Grizzlies had serious trouble defending the Raptor offense on Wednesday night, because of the consistency in the ball moving, and touching multiple hands in a single possession. The Bulls’ defense likes to play strong side, where they load all players towards the basket. Making the Bulls rotate will get their defense out of position when the ball moves. Sharing the ball will allow this team to find gaps in the Bulls’ defense, find easy opportunities, and open shots. It’s definitely better than having a stand-still offense, and asking DeRozan and Gay to combine for 62 shots.
X-Factor: Rudy Gay
Rudy likely had his best game of the season against his former team on Wednesday. He moved the ball and looked for his teammates, he took open shots, and played a terrific defensive game by staying in front of his match-up, and jumping the passing lanes. That same effort will be needed here this evening, as another defensive wing-duo in Butler and Deng will be looking to contain DeRozan and Gay, not to mention these are two guys far more capable offensively. Rudy will be asked once again to be a guy to score the ball, but to also play defense, rebound, and most importantly find his teammates.