It’s Official: Chicago Bulls Will Face the Toronto Raptors in Play-In Game

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It’s Official: Chicago Bulls Will Face the Toronto Raptors in Play-In Game

Chicago Bulls

With a 121-102 loss to the Boston Celtics on Friday night, the Toronto Raptors made it official.

The team will finish with the 9th-best record in the Eastern Conference, meaning they will host the Chicago Bulls in the 9v10 Play-In Tournament matchup that is set for April 12. The winner of that game will go on to face the loser of Heat-Hawks in the 7v8 game.

A couple of weeks back I went ahead and ranked the Bulls’ likely Play-In matchups. The Raptors were easily my pick for the toughest opponent, as they’ve gone 2-1 against Chicago this season.

Here’s my snippet about Toronto from that article:

Toronto is one of the most well-coached, disciplined, and physical teams in the NBA. We’ve already watched the Bulls drop two of their three games to the Raptors this season in large part due to their inability to counteract their aggressive style of play.

Indeed, the Bulls shot 52.1 percent from the field in their last matchup compared to the Raptors’ 40.4 percent … and still lost. If that doesn’t tell you just how difficult it is for this group to handle the Raptors, I don’t know what will! 

Offensive rebounds and forcing turnovers are the Raptors’ bread and butter. They have the 3rd-highest OREB% in the NBA and have their opponents turn the ball over an average of 16.9 times a night, which is second-best in the league. Between OG Anunoby, Scottie Barnes, Gary Trent Jr., and Pascal Siakam, the amount of length and hustle they have at the wings is absurd. All four have the ability to jump passing lanes and disrupt the point of attack. Anunoby and Trent Jr., in particular, both have a STL% that ranks in the 93rd percentile or better, per Dunks & Threes.

On top of all of this, the team traded for one of the most underrated big men in the league at the NBA trade deadline. Jakob Poeltl is averaging 15.5 points, 9.3 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks per game since joining the team. Opponents have scored -13.7 points per 100 possessions thus far when Poeltl is on the floor, per Cleaning the Glass, which ranks within the league’s 100th percentile. Out of any of the big men on these three potential Play-In foes, Poeltl could be the toughest matchup for Nikola Vucevic. 

The good news for Chicago is that the Raptors’ offense is – as the kids say – “sus.” They shoot just 33.8 percent from behind the arc (3rd-worst in the league) and sit bottom-5 in AST%. While a guy like VanVleet can get hot and Siakam is always tough to defend, there just isn’t much rhyme or reason to this Toronto offense. Instead, beating them could simply come down to limiting their second-chance opportunities and trips to the free-throw line.

We’ll take an even closer look at this matchup over the next few days. I want to go back and re-watch each of their three previous battles to have a better idea of what a path to victory might look like for the Bulls.

Beating Toronto certainly isn’t out of the equation. They’ve been only slightly less inconsistent than the Bulls this year. But I do worry quite a bit about their 26-14 record at home and the fact that they have more big-game experience. Will it be too much for the Bulls to overcome?

Author: Elias Schuster

Elias Schuster is the Lead Bulls Writer at Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @Schuster_Elias.