The race for seeding slows down tonight as the Bulls are the only relevant top team playing. They take on the Raptors at the United Center, in a game which they should be dialed into after losing to the Raptors in Toronto following the all-star break.
Derrick Rose and company seem to take a ‘never forget’ attitude towards losses and look to really take it out on opponents who’ve beaten them in the past, as such, I don’t expect them to take this game lightly.
The Raptors, on the other hand, aren’t in a playoff race and the guys left are likely already making summer plans. Toronto has lost five straight games, but occasionally they display enough offense to pull off some big upsets (like the Bulls earlier, and they beat the Thunder recently as well).
If the Bulls were going into this game lax, I might be concerned, but I expect them to be out for blood especially after a relatively lackluster effort last night in Detroit.
The Bulls simply need to bring the energy on both ends of the court. My biggest fear going into the playoffs with this team now is the staggering amount of times they come out flat, particularly in the starting line up.
When this team plays with energy, they’re extremely difficult to beat, but when they don’t fight for the loose balls and are slow moving around, they tend to find themselves in more trouble and close games.
The energy is almost always great in the second half of course, but it’d be nice to bury some of these bad teams early.
Toronto has no defense
Seriously, this should be a field day for Rose and Boozer against this Raptors team. They have no one on the interior, no one to defend on the perimeter. The Bulls need to focus with their passing, and they need to be patient with what they’re doing.
Avoid sloppiness, and the Bulls should be primed for a big offensive outing.
I expect the magic number to be down to four when this game is over. Anything can happen, you can’t always beat every poor team you play, however the Raptors took out the Bulls once already, I just don’t see the Bulls slacking off against them because of that.
That said, they were clearly good enough to beat them once, so anything can happen. Especially of Noah sits, Kurt Thomas and Carlos Boozer trying to chase Bargnani around the three point line scares me a bit.