Bulls at Raptors 6pm on WCIU - Going with what they have

Bulls at Raptors 6pm on WCIU - Going with what they have

The most interesting potential waiver pick up, Derek Fisher, appears likely to don a Thunder uniform when he clears waivers tonight. Chicago hasn’t emerged in the rumor mill with any other notable players either. Though I suppose anything is possible. The most likely scenario is still that Chicago goes with what they have, and I endorse the idea of sticking with the chemistry they’ve developed all season.

Every year there are waiver guys and a big uproar about whose team improves by grabbing them, and it never really makes any difference whatsoever.

Injury update

It was reported yesterday that Hamilton can finally lift his arm above his head after his shoulder injury I suppose that’s something, but it doesn’t sound like a guy about to come back and play in the next two weeks or so. I think the best Chicago can hope for at this point is that he’s ready a few games before the playoffs tip off and can work the rust off in the first two rounds.

Derrick Rose will sit out again tonight, and he’s said nothing optimistic about his groin injury. So far, it hasn’t responded the way he’s hoped. Rose hasn’t had a groin injury before and was probably overly optimistic about how quickly one heals from a groin pull. As of his last update, he still wasn’t running yet. I can’t see him coming back prior to the OKC game and even that might be a stretch.

Typically, you hope to have your team fully gel at the end of the season and hit the playoffs running but that won’t be the case for Chicago. The best Chicago can hope for is that the rest gets their guys fully healthy and that they have more legs than the teams that didn’t have injuries, but it’s more likely that they simply fight through the playoffs with guys playing through a lot of pain.

Oh yeah, there’s a game tonight

Tonight, the Bulls head to Toronto to take on Raptors team likely fighting harder for a high draft choice than a win. They’re presently just a half game ahead of New Jersey for the fourth worst record in the NBA. If the teams work together, but with New Jersey playing Washington tonight, Toronto fans might be salivating at the opportunity to drop into that fourth spot to last spot and add some ping pong balls in the Anthony Davis sweepstakes.

You can’t take any opponent lightly, and despite some recent success, the Bulls are a relatively pedestrian team without Rose. John Lucas has pulled rabbits out of their hat, and they’ve out hustled teams, but Chicago can drop a game to anyone with Rose if their PGs go into a funk.

Given the careers of Watson and Lucas to date, it would not be unusual to have them both hit a rough day on one night and have the whole team offense flounder and score 75 points. Fortunately for Chicago, 75 points might be enough to beat a disinterested Raptors team.

Keys to the game

Crush them on the glass

The biggest potential struggle for the Bulls without Rose is finding ways to score. Without their goto guy to create a quality shot out of nothing, the Bulls offense can stagnate badly. Especially if Watson/Lucas have an off night, and let’s face it, these guys aren’t career backups due to their tremendous scoring consistency.

Their best hedge to a poor shooting night is to crush the Raptors on the glass. Despite the Raptors ranking third in defensive rebound percentage, Chicago should have a strong quickness advantage against them to pull down offensive rebounds. Meanwhile Toronto is one of the worst offensive rebounding teams in the NBA and isn’t likely to beat up the Bulls there.

Joakim Noah will likely be matched up against Aaron Gray and while Gray can push him around a bit, Noah should find plenty of seams using his quickness to get in and grab some offensive boards.

Take the air out early

Lousy teams teams playing for ping pong balls typically don’t have much fight in them and can check out of a game early. The Bulls need to come out with defensive intensity and let them know from the get go that they aren’t winning this game. The players, used to losing, will likely fold quickly afterwards.

However, let them hang around and let the crowd get into it, and the game instead becomes their superbowl. Sure they stink, but if they can deliver one special night by beating the best team in the NBA, then it becomes something special for the franchise if only briefly. Chicago doesn’t want to let this team hang around and hope.

Easy win?

Well it should be as simple as controlling turnovers, hitting the glass, playing with standard intensity, and hitting a few shots. The Bulls, even minus Rose, are a much better team than Toronto. Toronto is also playing on a back to back whereas the Bulls are coming off a rest day, and the teams are moving in opposite directions in the standings.

About the only thing working against the Bulls is that they’re coming off an emotional win and this could easily be a let down game similar to how they lost to Portland after beating Miami. That said, the Bulls aren’t likely to fall into the same trap twice and Portland is a much better team than Toronto.


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  • Bulls Lose in 6 against MIA. That sounds about right doesn't it? I mean not being at full strength thats all you can hope for.

  • In reply to insertclichehere:

    It would be an improvement on going out in 5 like last season.

  • In reply to Chad:

    Chad the Joakim Noah stalker since his college days and since he was drafted by the Bulls, you're still around?
    I thought you had fled to a new blog after I informed the world I had sorted you out with that favorite line of yours, "No Shot Noah." But you are a nasty and determined guy, and let me assure you that I will track you down and dog you until you flee this blog. You're not going to get away with hit-and-run tactics.

  • In reply to SlamDunk:


  • Bulls should win easily the next 2 again the Raptors especially like you say the Raptors will probably give up early if the Bulls take it to them like they should!

    Doug is your pic of X Bull James Johnson punching Jo in the nuts!? Not very nice!!!!

  • Bargs played out of his mind earlier this season. Noah should play him, as he's their best player.

  • In reply to pinkizdead:

    I think Thibs will cross match Booz/Noah Bargs/Gray. He has more confidence in Booz using his strength against big centres and letting Jo take the more agile PF.

    This is a team that we matchup really well against even without DRose and Rip. Their main threats are Bargs and DeRosen who will be defended by Jo and Ronnie. I know JJ will be up for this game but even an underperforming Luol can keep him in check.

    I see another big offensive game for Booz; can't see anyone on the raptors who will stop him. Get him going early and often

    Go Bulls

  • Bargs was bringing it on the defensive end earlier this year. Davis isn't a terrible option on boozer.

  • Doug mentioned the playoffs which got me thinking(scary). Best record in the NBA and home court through the playoffs in back to back seasons..? Think about it. Isn't their some residual effect of winning that much, year after year, that has to make a team evolve into a serious threat?

    Doug mentions two points of interest to me::

    1) Hamilton likely will come back with just a few games left, and work off the rust in the first two rounds..?

    2) Likely the Bulls injured players will be playing through pain pain through the playoffs..?

    It is possible that if this winning rate continues the Bulls could end up with the best record, and home court advantage two years in a row. I don't know if a team with the best record and home court advantage back to back has ever lost two consecutive Conference Finals i.e not made it to the Finals, an interesting question?(Doug, Shakes, anyone?)

    As much as the Bulls seem like a close, but no cigar team without the second All-Star, and all the injuries(and injury prone players), they will have built quite a resume of winning. I'm not sure that can be discounted so easily.

    Sure Chicago might not heal up. And isn't playoff basketball about stars? Plus now teams are coming to play(at another level) every night. Yet, all these Bulls players being thrown into the fire, responsible for winning or losing, living or dying all year long basically, that has to have some tangible benefits. Doesn't it?

    As to Hamilton finally healing up just before the playoffs - I mean it is possible. Say he does work off the rust in the first two rounds. Then as an aging former All-Star caliber playoff performer, he has enough saved in the bank account to pull out two rounds or a round and a half of fairly excellent play as he did in his short stint with the team for what 11 games?

    If Hamilton does 'evolve' or metamorph while the Bulls are grinding out wins in the war of the playoffs how much momentum does that build? And if the bench mob graduates to the, hey 'we can get it done' belief, we've been there and been flat out winners, then the confidence exists to elevate their level of play post season, then maybe you have something.

    Of course it's in the latter rounds that roll guys fade somewhat, and stars shine. Can Jo play like the playoff force he has in the past? The fact that Jo has 'come back,' and Taj has been more of a factor offensively is at least a positive sign. Boozer has to become a more prolific scorer, and he's showing sings of doing just that. Now D-Roses doubles can finally be used to let other players make them pay, if the team makes the next step all teams must make against their Detroits, their Miamis, then maybe they can take Miami to 6 as someone said earlier. And we know a certain 'best player in the game' who when there's reasonable doubt, under duress, becomes El Foldo.

    If everyone brings their regular season ability of winning games which means elevating to have the same effect in the playoffs, then Booz, Taj, Jo etc. will be there. And Derrick too, hopefully at times as more of a facilitator if they are going to beat Maimi it will be as a team. If the team is effective offensively, then Derrick will have his opportuntties to be a heller. To be the One. But surely he will have to fight. At some point a threatened team will lash out at him with some dirty, smashing fouls. This i a Pat Riley team afterall. Derrick, and the guys, will have to fight back. If so, they can win.

    35% chance of rain? 40% chance of showers? At what point do you put on that raincoat, and not be startled there's a downpour?

  • In reply to RoadWarrior:

    I suppose its the reason we love commenting on boards. We all have our "IF" questions; but ain't it great that we can now have those questions. It has for a long time been
    If we win the last 20 games of the regular season me might make the playoffs; lol!!!
    Now the "if's" have substance. And this year they have more intrigue.
    We don't know who will be fit come playoff time but its great to try to imagine the run with all 13 players fit.
    We don't know if Jo and Booz will continue to play together as well as they are recently
    We don't know if Luol will be able to get to a point where he is close to 100%
    We don't know if Derrick will start getting the calls from the refs
    We don't know if Rip will be the missing cog
    We don't know if Thibs will have faith in the Bench Mob come playoff time

    But what we can do is imagine.

    We can't predict the injury front but its great to think "what if" we are all healthy, firing on all cylinders and Thibs uses the bench properly. And why is it great to imagine? Simple. Because we all know, no matter how hard we are on the players we would prefer on other teams that this year with a fair wind we could be the 2012 NBA Champions. Dreams/reality - who cares? We just love commenting on the World Famous Doug Thonus Board!!

  • If it took Rip two weeks to even raise his arm, then his shoulder injury is obviously far worse than a "bruise". Not lifting the arm and the admission of continued pain being likely for an additional month or two sounds like a rotator cuff injury. It's the classic symptoms.

    I agree with Rip Hamilton returning just before the playoffs begin.
    If Rip played many regular season games he'd just be needlessly exposing himself to another injury. Save him for the playoffs! And save Rose too!!

    Groin pulls are serious! They usually take a month or two to fully heal, and if he can't even run it sounds like Rose's is rather serious.
    I wouldn't be surprised to see Rose out until mid-April.
    Though Bulls will continue to say Rose is day-to-day, I think he is week-to-week or weeks away. If Rose plays while his injury is improving but not really healed he'll just re-aggravate the groin pull, especially with how aggressively Rose plays - and then Bulls are screwed for the playoffs.

    Again, like Rip, save Rose for the playoffs! We don't need another regular season championship. The worst of the schedule is over and the roster has shown they can complete most of the remaining games without Rose and Hamilton.

    Since there is no solution to Deng's injury, I wish Thibs would reduce Deng's minutes to 30 and develop Jimmy Butler more. Butler deserves the minutes, and Bulls need him up to speed for the playoffs as Deng could get knocked out of the lineup at any time.

  • In reply to Edward:

    To Rip's credit, I think he said in a few days after the injury that he could not raise his hand over his shoulder. I am sure LeBron/Wade or even players from Indiana/NY will try to bump his shoulder if he plays before the playoffs. They all know Rip playing well is the big difference to Bulls this year for going to the finals. If LeBron was slapping at Deng's wrist ....I am sure Wade/Haslem will do anything to take out Rip by setting a tough screen.

  • In reply to Edward:

    For what it is worth, I had shoulder surgery 9 weeks ago, and I am still doing physical therapy and still have noticeable pain when putting any significant weight on it.

    I had no significant rotator cuff damage, but I had a large bone spur which was digging into my rotator cuff whenever I lifted my arm. I hope to be 100% by the time that the playoffs start.

    I have no idea what is wrong with Hamilton's shoulder, and apparently neither do the Bulls. Recovering from shoulder trauma seems to be a very slow process, and that assumes that he has no actual rotator cuff damage that needs to be repaired.

    At this point the best the Bulls could do is rest everybody(Rose, Deng and Hamilton) as much as needed and focus on being ready for the playoffs. I would sit Deng as often as needed and get Butler as many quality minutes as possible before the playoffs.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Hey BigWay,

    Bulls know intimately the status of their players' injuries - they just keep that information top secret. For example, Rose dressing and being called a "game time decision" - its an exercise in deception, a disinformation campaign. Another example, calling Rip’s injury a shoulder bruise (contusion) and listing him as day-to-day. You can't lift your arm for 2 weeks - that ain't no bruise!

    I had a rotator cuff injury in junior college. The symptoms were not being able to lift the arm past half-way, and intermittent pain which lingered on and off for months.

    Surgery is one method of treatment, but the other is to just rest and rehab it and it can eventually heal on its own - perhaps not perfectly healed, but functionally. If Rip had surgery 2 weeks ago he'd be lost for the playoffs. So Bulls are taking the non-surgery approach, just like with Deng.

    I for one, won’t be surprised if Rip has shoulder surgery in the off season.

  • In reply to Edward:

    I agree with you but at the same time, bulls need their roster healthy at least one month before the post-season. They need to see how they look like at full strength. Rip has go to play this last month.

  • In reply to deewaves:

    Hey Deewaves,
    Yes, it would be nice if Bulls could be healthy for a month before the playoffs. But the playoffs start in just 5 weeks! So that’s impossible.

    If Bulls can get healthy one week before they’ll be doing exceptionally well, because both Rip and Rose have serious injuries. Yes, I know we’re being told they’re day-to-day, but they’re seriously injured.

    You can’t lift your arm for two weeks? That ain’t no bruise!

  • Almost every game conversation comes back to how the Bulls will play against Miami in the playoffs? And after last year, nobody even trusts what happens in the regular season even if the Bulls beat up Miami by 20+ pts in each regular season game.
    The point is the fear of "LeBron". LeBron is so desperate to win a c'ship this year plus he is playing at a higher level for his standards and he has the ultimate confidence in making his shots or play shutdown defense(along with his teammates) against Rose/Bulls in the playoffs.
    Herein lies Thibs's coaching...will he keep using just Deng to stop LeBron or will he use Butler/Brewer to give Deng a break/throw him off his rhythm. This also means playing Butler against the likes of Igoudala for practice/confidence. We know Deng does an adequate job but he is not a shutdown defender on LeBron especially with his wrist injury.
    I hope Thibs uses games like these to give confidence to Noah's jump-shots or run some offense through Boozer, Noah or even Butler to have it in his pocket for the playoffs as a surprise.

  • some of these lesser teams see beating the Bulls as their super bowl championship/measuring stick. They will go hard like the trailblazers who acted like they won the superbowl. Toronto has some athleticism that bothers the Bulls, we'll see how they come out. I think they'll win it but it will be a close game. Toronto has some scorers and they do seem to be playing better defense.

  • Rosenblog being his usual snarky self, but I couldn't help but chuckle.

    "Not just entertaining and fun, but remarkable. I mean, the Bulls set a franchise record for defense with Carlos Boozer on the court. You see a miracle like that, and you suddenly stop laughing at the Mayan calendar".

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Yes, that was good writing!

  • Somebody say, trap game?

  • In reply to ixonflex69:

    spoke too soon it appears

  • Raptors camo uniforms are ridiculous. What are they trying to blend into, there's not typically much jungle on the sideline of an indoor basketball court.

    Bulls took their time to stamp on the faces of the Raptors but it happened in the end, so who cares.

  • Deng, 44 minutes. Butler, 0 minutes.

    The fourth-quarter comeback suggests that Thibs made the right decision leaving Deng in. He looked tired and in a lot of respects awful, but his leadership and rebounds helped us get the win. That said, when we go up by 12 with less than 6min to go, you have to start looking for a chance to swap in Butler. No reason Deng had to be in the game for the last 2 minutes, in particular, when the Raptors were fouling on every possession.

    I'd like to see some statistics about minutes played and injuries. It's hard for me to believe that the enormous number of injuries to Bulls players this year has nothing to do with the distribution of minutes. Sure, there are more injuries all around because of the compressed scheduled (less preseason, less practice, less rest). But the Bulls are suffering from an inordinate number of them even so.

  • In reply to bzoooty:

    I also noticed Deng looking quite tired tonight. Deng deserves a lighter load during the weeks leading up to the playoffs - low to mid 30s. Playing Deng 44 minutes against the lowly Raptors is foolish and short-sighted.

    As tonight proved once again, Bulls Bench Mob is just a valuable as the starters. It is one of Bulls greatest assets, shortening the rotation in the playoffs would be a huge mistake. Instead, the Bench Mob should be developed during this period of injuries - and it is except for Jimmy Butler.

    Jimmy Butler deserves 1st half minutes, not garbage time, so he can be a reliable asset in case needed in the playoffs. And Jimmy will be needed because injuries can occur during the playoffs too.
    Deng needs a lighter load in preparation for the playoffs. Deng won't admit it, Thibs won't allow it, but everyone with two eyes and a brain can see it.

  • In reply to Edward:

    Deng played all 24 minutes of the second half, as well as the first 20 minutes straight in the first half, absolutely assinine, especially since he was looking pretty ragged much of the time. He has been missing(blowing)more and more assignments on defense, which I do not think that you can blame on his wrist alone. He is breaking down physically and mentally.

    Obviously, Deng played during the entire 4rth quarter comeback, but it was Lucas and Korver that won the game, I wonder how different the outcome would have been if Butler had played the entire 4rth instead. Thibs was obviously to scared to find out.

    After the great extended minutes that Butler gave us at home, what the hell is Thibs purpose in not playing him at all on the road. This is not the work of a great coach, it is the work of a short sighted, tunnel visioned lunatic.

  • only one word : Lucasinsanity !!

  • In reply to deewaves:

    Lucsanity, covered in Hot Sauce!

    Bulls' Bench Mob Rules!!!
    Asik and Gibson also played very well.

  • In reply to Edward:

    Try Thibsanity.

    Some of us felt that was a problem in the ECF last year. The bench should have been used more, especially Thomas, but also Rasoul. It sure would have been worth a try. Doesn't anyone else with a basketball mind have his ear?

    In fact, however, Thibs should have used Rasoul down the stretch of the regular season, but maybe he didn't like what he saw in practice - hard to say without an insider view. But coaches, like everyone else, do develop blind spots.

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