An intense battle for the 8th seed of the Eastern Conference will begin tonight, as the Bulls visit the Raptors in Toronto. Both teams have an indentical 38-41 record and whoever wins tonight will have an advantage going into the final two games of the regular season.
Toronto is playing without star, and possible Bulls target this summer, Chris Bosh. The seven-year veteran is out for the season, whereas the Bulls are finally healthy. But despite a full line-up, the Bulls still lost to the New Jersey Nets on Friday.
Bulls All-Star point guard Derrick Rose fouled out in the 2nd overtime against the Nets, and the team crumbled without him. Rose had one of his rougher NBA games, as he was screaming at referees and struggling to hang onto the ball.
Head coach Vinny Del Negro was told by management he could play center Joakim Noah more minutes, but instead sat him on the bench in favor of Brad Miller who had a major game. Del Negro afterwards wrote it off as 'miscommunication'.
Miller scored 27 points, pulled ten boards and swatted three shots. Noah added 16 points, nine rebounds and four blocks, while Taj Gibson and Kirk Hinrich pulled down nine rebounds each. Hinrich in fact was one rebound and one assist shy of a triple-double. His opponent, rookie Terrence Williams, did however get one. 27 points, 13 rebounds and ten assists for the swingman out of Louisville.
Forward Luol Deng brought some range with him, knocking down three-of-four from behind the arc. Deng is shooting 39% from behind the arc this season, but has taken just 77 attempts. Chicago could use more long-range shooting, and will undoubtedly try to acquire such help in the summer.
Raptors forward Andrea Bargnani has always presented the Bulls with a problem. The seven-footer can shoot over the defense and and stretch the floor effectively. Joakim Noah will try to close out of the Italian tonight, and force the ball out of his hands.