The Toronto Raptors are set to clash with the Chicago Bulls in a highly anticipated encounter on Wednesday at the Scotiabank Arena. This face-off between the two closely-seeded teams was confirmed following the Raptors’ defeat at the hands of the Boston Celtics on a recent Friday night.
This season, the Raptors have demonstrated a strong performance against the Bulls, securing two victories on their home turf and enduring a loss on the road. What’s especially noteworthy about this meeting is the inaugural post-season encounter between the Raptors and the Bulls. Notably, it’s also the first instance where either of the teams will compete in the play-in tournament.
Although the two teams have never confronted each other in the playoffs, there’s a palpable sense of familiarity for Raptors fans. The upcoming game holds significant stakes, as they will compete against DeMar DeRozan, a beloved former player.
The victor of Wednesday’s game will face the loser of the 7-8 play-in game between the Atlanta Hawks and Miami Heat the following Friday. This match offers a golden opportunity to claim the eighth seed and a playoff series against the formidable Milwaukee Bucks.
Reflecting on the challenges faced against the Raptors, Bulls’ coach Billy Donovan highlighted their size as a major obstacle. After the Bulls’ close 115-112 win on Friday night, he said, “They play big, and they’re long, and they’re a really good offensive-rebounding team. We’ll have to do a good job rebounding as a unit.”
He added, “There’s no other team in the NBA that plays the way they play, the way they junk up the game, the way Nick Nurse coaches. We played them three times this year… so we got a good look at them.”
To understand what’s in store, let’s revisit the season series:
Raptors 113, Bulls 104
Scotiabank Arena, November 6, 2022
Fred VanVleet made a powerful comeback after a three-game absence due to a sore back, posting 30 points and 11 rebounds. His performance was instrumental in the Raptors’ victory, achieved despite Pascal Siakam, the Raptors’ leading scorer, straining his right adductor muscle in the previous game.
All five Raptors starters scored in double figures, with O.G. Anunoby contributing 22 points and Scottie Barnes chipping in with 19 points and ten rebounds. The Bulls, led by DeMar DeRozan’s 20 points, struggled against the Raptors’ robust defense that recorded 11 steals and ten blocks. DeRozan was limited to nine shots, as Raptors coach Nick Nurse consistently employed defensive traps.
Bulls 111, Raptors 97
United Center, November 7, 2022
Zach LaVine delivered his first 30-point game of the season, sinking four 3-pointers and showcasing the athleticism and dynamism that were somewhat missing from his early-season performances. Six Bulls players scored in double figures, and the team registered 30 assists, enabling them to balance the back-to-back set of games.
Raptors 104, Bulls 98
Scotiabank Arena, February 28, 2023
In this game, the Raptors once again leveraged their defensive length to overwhelm the Bulls, leading to 20 turnovers that resulted in 21 points. Raptors’ advantage in offensive rebounds was also evident, with a 19-6 lead.
The Raptors took 94 field goals, a considerable 23 more than the Bulls, with Siakam’s 20 points leading five players in double figures. DeRozan, who faced consistent double-teams, scored only 13 points on 11 shots.