Friday, December 1, 2023
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NBA Preview: Toronto Raptors (1-0) at Chicago Bulls (0-1)

After a deflating season-opening loss that quickly prompted a players-only meeting, the Chicago Bulls will aim to regroup on Friday against the visiting Toronto Raptors.

Chicago sputtered out of the gate at home on Wednesday, losing to Oklahoma City 124-104 in a game that saw center Nikola Vucevic and coach Billy Donovan enter into an animated exchange on the bench in the third quarter.

In short, what was going on was a momentum shift for the Thunder, who shook off a 35-33 deficit after one quarter to place six players in double figures.

Oklahoma City shot 54.9 percent, including 48.7 percent (19 of 39) from long range while limiting the Bulls to 41.5 percent accuracy from the field.

Toronto hopes to maintain the momentum from Wednesday’s 97-94 home win against Minnesota in Darko Rajakovic’s first game as Raptors coach.

Another debut steered Toronto to victory, as newcomer Dennis Schroder paced the Raptors with 22 points to lead a balanced attack that also included O.G. Anunoby (20 points) and Scottie Barnes (17).

The Raptors know they have room for growth on offense — they followed a 28-point second quarter with just 20 in the third — and the team is confident Schroder’s experience as a facilitator will be a steady benefit during Toronto’s transition.

Schroder dished three of his game-best seven assists in the fourth quarter. After the Raptors held on for the narrow victory, they dumped ice water on Rajakovic in the locker room — a sharp contrast to the scene in the Bulls’ locker room after their opener.

Chicago leads the all-time series with Toronto, 55-47. The Bulls have won seven of the past 10 meetings, including the teams’ lone matchup at United Center last season.

The run also includes five straight home wins for the Bulls against the Raptors. Toronto’s most recent win in Chicago came on Dec. 9, 2019.

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