Just as the Raptors had things nicely set up for them in trying to get their third win in a row, they are going to face the complete opposite today, as the Bulls are on a tear and after seeing how they played as a team against the Pacers, the Raptors are going to have a few things to worry about today.
In case you have been living under a rock this year, Derrick Rose is legit. He’s second in rookie scoring, first in assists and seems to have a maturity level beyon his years, something the Raptors witnessed first hand earlier this season. But what should be troubling for the Raptors beyond that is the trio that the Bulls have in the backcourt, with Rose, Gordon and Hinrich. While Rose was out with a wrist injury, Hinrich stepped up and showed that the Bulls might have the best triumvirate in the back court as between the three of them, they are able to pass, score and attack the basket when necessary. With the Raptors having some problems playing D against the more talented guard sets this season and not having a deep bench to go to for a stopper, they could be in a little bit of trouble from that position.
Reggie Miller recently said (half jokingly) that Tyrus Thomas should be getting 10 blocks per game and if you watch Thomas play, you can see why he said it. Thomas lives for blocks. You can even see him slow down on some plays so that he will put himself in position to get a block. Sure, this puts him in place to get burned a lot on D, but if he starts to get into one of those grooves, he can end up with 7 in a game like he had the other night.
So for the Raptors to continue this mini win streak that they have going, it’s no secret that they are going to need their bigs to be their bigs. Bosh and Bargnani are going to have to do their thing again, but this game might hang on what Shawn Marion is going to do. The Bulls can get up and down the court and have some of the better young talent in the league, so Shawn isn’t going to beat anybody down the court, but it will be important for him to use his veteran knowledge to know what to do when he gets those breaks. You can suck a lot of young players into foul trouble early if you are able to get them reaching.
Marion’s presence will also be determined on how Jose is able to get him the ball. While we have seen Jose more comfortable lately in pushing the ball up the court (and this has to be related to his health getting better), there have been times where he has been hesitant to get Marion the ball early. If it is there today, the Raptors will need to use it.
3 in the Key
1. Stay aggressive. The Bulls are young and play with a lot of energy…sometimes too much. If the Raptors can get some of the Bulls in early foul trouble, it could make things a lot easier.
2. Guard play. The Raptors will need their guards to show up on both ends of the court today, not just the offensive end.
3. Rebounds. It has been a broken record, but the Raptors are going to need some second chance points in order to stop the Bulls from extending their win streak.