Monday, October 3, 2022
Al Rossi Sports Investments

Preview: Toronto Raptors (40-31) at Chicago Bulls (41-29)

The Chicago Bulls will be out to end a three-game losing streak and preserve their playoff seeding Monday night when they play the visiting Toronto Raptors.

The Bulls, who are fifth in the Eastern Conference, have lost eight of their past 10 games.

Toronto has won six straight on the road, including a 93-88 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday night.

The Raptors are seventh in the Eastern Conference, 1.5 games behind the Bulls and one game behind the sixth-place Cavaliers for a guaranteed playoff spot.

The Bulls completed an 0-3 Western swing with a 129-102 loss to the Phoenix Suns on Friday.

“When we start missing shots and missing shots, you can see it sometimes affects us,” Bulls coach Billy Donovan said. “You’ve got to really invest in stuff that you can control but we’ve got to develop a stamina, a resilience of dealing with it when it’s not going well.”

DeMar DeRozan, formerly of the Raptors, said he has faced an increase in blitzes and double teams since the All-Star break. It means that DeRozan and Zach LaVine are forced to pass in situations that used to be shooting opportunities.

“For sure,” DeRozan said. “No question. Probably the most I’ve seen in my career, to be honest with you. For me, it’s one of those things that we’ve got to figure out. It’s on me to help the guys figure it out as well.

“The best way to learn is to be knocked in the mouth like we’re doing. Now it’s a matter of us responding, letting it click. Once it clicks, we be fine.”

DeRozan had 19 points on 6-of-14 shooting against Phoenix. LaVine was 1 of 7 from the field while making 10 free throws to finish with 12 points on Friday. LaVine led the team with nine assists as he continues to play with a left-knee injury.

“We need to keep evolving and understanding how we can beat teams and use that against them,” DeRozan said. “Once that rhythm comes, we’re going to be all right.”

The Raptors won the final five games of a six-game road trip before losing in overtime at home to the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday. They bounced back Sunday with the road win at Philadelphia.

They were without Fred VanVleet, who rested a sore knee, and OG Anunoby, who remains out with a fractured finger.

With VanVleet out, Khem Birch and Precious Achiuwa were both in the starting lineup.

“I didn’t like it to begin with,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said of his lineup. “There’s just something not quite right about those two guys out there together yet. We’ve got to get to work and figure that out so Khem and Precious (can) play together.”

Pascal Siakam led Toronto with 26 points and added 10 rebounds. Chris Boucher had 12 points and 14 rebounds, and Achiuwa matched his season best with 21 points and grabbed nine rebounds. Birch had four points.

Toronto trailed by as many as 16 points during the first quarter that finished with Philadelphia leading 37-27.

After being outscored 20-12 in the third quarter, the Raptors had a 24-14 advantage in the fourth quarter.

“I love it, being in these close games,” Nurse said. “It’s so good for these guys, Scottie (Barnes) and Precious and Gary (Trent Jr.) that have never been in them.”

Patrick Williams is expected to make his return from wrist surgery on Monday for the Bulls.

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