#651 Chicago Bullsvs.#652 Toronto Raptors
Written by Chris Kubala
Chicago Bulls (33-37 SU, 34-36 ATS, 26-43-1 O/U) vs. Toronto Raptors (41-29 SU, 38-31-1 ATS, 37-33 O/U)
NBA: Tuesday, March 21, 2017, Air Canada Centre, Toronto, Ontario, 7 pm ET
Line: Toronto -7; Over/Under: 201.5
It’s a matchup of Eastern Conference foes in different situations taking place north of the border. The Chicago Bulls travel to face the Toronto Raptors Tuesday night. Chicago won for just the second time in nine games as they beat the Jazz 95-86 at home Saturday night. Toronto won for the third time in their last four as they pummeled the Pacers 116-91 at home Sunday evening. Chicago holds a 48-32 advantage in the all-time regular season series between the teams. The Bulls have taken the last 11 meetings between the teams, including a 105-94 home win on February 14 in the most recent matchup.
Chicago picked a terrible time to go into a slump as they had lost seven of eight before beating Utah. The Bulls entered Monday a game behind the Pistons for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Chicago trailed by seven after the opening quarter and by three after three quarters. The Bulls rallied to outscore the Jazz 34-22 in the fourth quarter to get the win. Chicago shot 47.5 percent from the field and sank 7 of 19 three point attempts in the game. The Bulls overcame a 49-39 rebounding disadvantage by holding Utah to 38.3 percent shooting. Jimmy Butler had 23 points while Bobby Portis added a career high 22 off the bench for Chicago.
The Bulls come into this contest 25th in the league with 101.8 points per game this season. Chicago is 3rd in the league in rebounding with 46.1 boards per contest. The Bulls are 17th in the league in assists with 21.9 dimes per game. Chicago is 8th in scoring defense as they allow 103.1 points a night. Jimmy Butler leads the team with 23.3 points plus 6.2 rebounds per game. Dwyane Wade averages 18.6 points plus 4.5 rebounds per game but is done for the year with a fracture in his elbow. Nikola Mirotic contributes 9.5 points plus 5.2 rebounds per game. Robin Lopez (10.3 points, 6.5 rebounds), Michael Carter-Williams, Rajon Rondo, Cristiano Felicio, Cameron Payne, Anthony Morrow and Bobby Portis all are key pieces for coach Fred Hoiberg. Chicago is tied for 27th in field goal percentage by shooting 44 percent from the floor. The Bulls are last in the league by splashing seven threes per game and is last in the league by shooting 32.4 percent from beyond the arc.
Toronto has won two straight and three of four as they bulldozed Indiana at home to close the gap in the Atlantic Division. The Raptors were within three games of the Atlantic Division leading Celtics entering Monday night. Toronto took an eight point lead after the first quarter, extended the advantage to 17 at the half and never looked back. The Raptors shot 49.5 percent from the field and drained 12 of 27 three point attempts in the contest. Toronto held Indiana to 41.3 percent shooting overall, including 6 of 23 from three point range, and won the rebounding battle 51-33 to overcome 16 turnovers. DeMar DeRozan led seven Raptors in double figures with 22 points in the win.
The Raptors come into this one 10th in the league by averaging 106.9 points per game. Toronto is having their struggles on the glass, ranking tied for 19th with 43.1 boards per game. The Raptors are last in the league in assists with 18.3 dimes a night. Toronto is 7th in scoring defense as they give up 103.1 points per game. DeMar DeRozan leads Toronto with 26.8 points plus 5.3 boards per contest. Jonas Valanciunas is averaging 12.1 points plus 9.6 boards per contest. Kyle Lowry is the floor general for the Raptors and he contributes with 22.8 points plus 6.9 assists and 1.45 steals per game. He is out of the mix for the time being after undergoing wrist surgery. Toronto gets solid production from guys like Serge Ibaka (14.9 points, 6.8 rebounds, 1.62 blocks), DeMarre Carroll (9.2 points), Cory Joseph, Patrick Patterson and Norman Powell. The rotation should receive a boost from the addition of P.J. Tucker as well. The Raptors are 12th in the league in field goal percentage by shooting 46.1 percent from the field. Toronto is tied for 21st in the league by sinking 8.8 three pointers per game. The Raptors are tied for 13th in the league in three point shooting as they hit 36.3 percent from beyond the arc.
Chicago is in need of some wins as they have dropped seven of nine even with their win over the Jazz. The Bulls are fortunate to be just one game out of the playoff picture but if they can’t turn things around, it won’t matter. Toronto found their perimeter stroke in the win over Indiana and that makes them extremely dangerous if those shots are going down. Chicago is still trying to figure out the right combination of guys, which is a bad thing with 12 games to go. Look for Toronto to take this one for their third straight win.
Chicago has circled the drain with seven losses in their last nine games and offense has clearly been a problem. The Bulls have been held to 95 points or less in eight of their last 10 games coming into this one. Toronto had been struggling from the outside with Lowry out but the team seems to have turned the corner after draining 12 threes in their rout of Indiana. The Raptors still have a lot of depth and plenty of talent to work with on both ends of the floor as they prepare for the stretch run.
The under is 6-1 in the Bulls last 7 Tuesday games, 8-2 in their last 10 overall, 4-1 in their last five against the Atlantic Division and 6-2 in their last 8 when their opponent scores 100 points or more in their previous game. Toronto has seen the under go 5-1 in their last six against Central Division foes, 16-5 in their last 21 vs. Eastern Conference competition and 5-2 in their last 7 after scoring 100 points or more in their previous game. Given Chicago’s recent struggles to score, you have to lean toward this one falling under the total.
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Christopher Kubala has been crunching stats and following sports for over 30 years. His in depth analysis and passion for sports have led him to writing books about sports, regularly being featured on sports talk radio and as the go-to person for any obscure trivia. He keeps an eye on transactions and statistics like a hawk, especially when it comes to football, both the NFL and college, the NHL, the NBA and college basketball and MLB.