Ay caramba, this is a tough one for the Raptors. The Bulls have won 13 of their last 15 games and their one loss at home during that period was by a single point. Although they’ve only had Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer in their lineup at the same time for nine of their 32 games, they’re still third in the Eastern Conference with a 22-10 record and they have the second-best defence in the league with just 99.8 points allowed per 100 possessions.
The big news for Raptors fans is that Andrea Bargnani is expected to make his return to the lineup tonight. He’ll probably be guarded primarily by the second-oldest player in the NBA, so maybe he’ll make a big splash in the Windy City.
Toronto: Bargnani, Amir Johnson and Jerryd Bayless are probable, Jose Calderon is questionable, and Sonny Weems is out.
Chicago: No Noah, but the Bulls are otherwise healthy.
1. Can the Raptors keep Carlos Boozer in check this time? In his previous game against the Raptors on Dec. 17, he went 13-for-17 for 34 points and 12 rebounds.
2. Did you know that Kurt Thomas is third among active players (behind Shaq and Juwan Howard) with 3,280 career personal fouls?
3. Is Derrick Rose going to commit crimes against humanity tonight while guarded by Jose Calderon and Jerryd Bayless with their messed-up ankles?
4. When’s the last time a contending team had a worse starting two-guard than Keith Bogans?
5. Have you missed my video breakdowns on the weekdays after Raptors games? I’m back in the office tomorrow so there will be a breakdown of tonight’s game.
Start time: 8:00 PM ET
Probable starting lineups
Toronto: Jose Calderon, DeMar DeRozan, Linas Kleiza, Amir Johnson, Andrea Bargnani
Chicago: Derrick Rose, Keith Bogans, Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer, Kurt Thomas
Tonight’s pregame song is “Positive Bleeding” by Urge Overkill. I had this cassette in the early ’90s and thought these guys were “rad” or whatever word that version of me would have used for a band I liked. They came from the Chicago rock scene at the same time as Smashing Pumpkins, but it’s safe to say the trajectories of those two bands turned out quite different.