Joakim Noah begins again where it ended last time. His last game for the Bulls was a big win in Toronto, and the Bulls look to repeat that feat tonight. The Raptors are coming off of a road loss in Charlotte last night while the Bulls will be playing their first game since the all-star break.
Keys to the game
Work Noah back into the lineup
One of the primary things the Bulls need to do tonight is work Joakim Noah back into the lineup. Thibodeau has announced that Noah will start, but he's unlikely to play his usual minutes in his first game back. Noah's had a history of needing to play his way back into his shape, so it may take him a week or two to get fully back into game shape.
Beat them up inside
The Bulls have a huge interior advantage in this game, something which will become far more common with Joakim Noah back. Own the glass on both ends, and the Raptors will have no margin for error the rest of the night. Get offensive rebounds and don't give them up, and even if everything else goes against the team, you can win. The Bulls should be able to do that and stamp out the possibility of falling even if the Raptors have a hot shooting night.
Play with patience
The Raptors don't have much defense, so the Bulls offense should have little struggle scoring. However, they need to make sure they don't hurry so much that the team gets sloppy. A high turnover game is one of the few things that could swing this game for the Raptors.
Don't look ahead to the Heat
Chris Bosh wasn't trash talking per se, but he noted how the Heat want to go into Chicago and show them what they have. You can bet this is a statement game for both teams. The Bulls won only time they've met, but the Heat were missing LeBron while the Bulls were missing Noah.
If you forget, it was also the source of Bosh's hilarious embarrassing quote where he criticized Omer Asik for having the audacity to dive for a loose ball.
Given what a statement game the Heat game is, the Bulls need to be careful not to look ahead to that game. They need to make sure to take care of business.
The Bulls should take this game easily, but as we've seen with Chicago, no road game is an easy game for Chicago. They've fallen to many of the mediocre squads in the league on the road.
However, the Raptors are playing on a back to back and are one of the worst teams in the league. Even if the team is disjointed with Noah's return, they should manage to pick up a win in Toronto.