Archive for the ‘Chicago Bulls’ Category

Game No. 47: Bulls 94, Raptors 82

Joseph was unavailable to write this recap tonight and he’ll be in New York (lucky bastard) on Friday and Saturday so  I’m going to be doing these next three recaps, against my will and better judgement. My lack of giving a crap about this particular Raptors season should be fairly evident by this point, but let me crystallize it for you. The only time I got fired up about anything related to the Raptors this season was when Jerryd Bayless put together a nice string of games while Jose Calderon was injured. Now Bayless is injured and there’s nobody else on this team that I particularly enjoy watching at the moment.

Full disclosure: I didn’t even get a chance to start recording this game on my PVR until four minutes into the second quarter when the Bulls were leading 32-31. I was delayed getting home tonight because I had to rectify a bonehead move from this past weekend — I put my kids’ iPad on top of my car on Sunday and then drove away. It might be one of the five dumbest things I’ve ever done, but I’m not really sure about that at this point in my life. Anyway, I met up with somebody in the Toys R Us parking lot next to Sherway Gardens Mall after work tonight so I could buy her old iPad. She brought a couple of dudes with her for protection and I handed her the money in an envelope. It might be the closest thing to a drug deal I’ll ever participate in.

I had some thoughts. Here are six of them.

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Start time: 7:00 PM ET
Channel: Sportsnet
Probable starting lineups
Toronto: Jose Calderon, DeMar DeRozan, James Johnson, Andrea Bargnani, Aaron Gray
Chicago: C.J. Watson, Ronnie Brewer, Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer, Joakim Noah

Injury report

Toronto: Jerryd Bayless is probably out with a hip pointer.

Chicago: Derrick Rose and Rip Hamilton are day-to-day.

The Raptors are wearing their hideous camouflage uniforms again for tonight’s game. A percentage of the sales of these jerseys go to charity, but is anyone actually buying these monstrosities? If you want to help out the Canadian Military Families Fund, I recommend donating directly to the organization so you don’t inflict this fashion failure on society.

Derrick Rose probably won’t be on the floor for the Bulls tonight, but it’s unlikely they’ll need him to beat the Raptors handily. They’re 10-4 without Rose this season and they’ve won their last five road games. They also held the Magic to just 59 points on Monday — if they defend that well again tonight, I shudder to think how low the Raptors’ scoring total could be. When they met on Jan. 14, the Bulls won 77-64 and the Raptors shot under 35 percent from the field.

When you combine the ugly uniforms with the likelihood that the Raptors won’t score over 75 points, this figures to be a thoroughly depressing game for Raptors fans to behold. I’d say the odds of me switching to the Clippers-Thunder game before this one ends are fairly strong.

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Just a reminder — in case you’re becoming increasingly bummed out by the Raptors’ season and you would like to shift your sports attention to a local team with a little more hope — Drunk Jays Fans is part of theScore.com now. They know their baseball, they’re funny and they curse a lot. Note: “they” is almost entirely Andrew Stoeten, but that may change in the future.

Well, the Raptors improbably managed to keep this game competitive through three quarters as the Bulls looked sluggish and sloppy, but Chicago extended a four-point lead into an 11-point advantage with a 7-0 run to start the fourth quarter. A team like the Raptors are not going to make up that kind of difference against a defense like the Bulls, especially with Bargnani missing in action.

Six thoughts on this game? Sure, why not.

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Start time: 8:00 PM ET
Channel: TSN2
Probable starting lineups
Toronto: Jose Calderon, DeMar DeRozan, Rasual Butler, Ed Davis, Amir Johnson
Chicago: Derrick Rose, Ronnie Brewer, Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer, Joakim Noah

Injury report

Toronto: Andrea Bargnani will be a game-time decision, Jerryd Bayless is out.

Chicago: Rip Hamilton will be a game-time decision, C.J. Watson is out.

I don’t think there’s a great need to break this game down. The Bulls are the best team in the Eastern Conference right now while the Raptors — without Andrea Bargnani in the lineup — are one of the worst. Chicago has a clear advantage at every single starting position except for shooting guard, and their bench is so far superior to Toronto’s that it’s ludicrous to even compare them. If the Raptors keep the losing margin to a single digit, I would count that as a moral victory.

The Bulls are 4-0 at home this season, their opponents have averaged 67.5 points in those games and the Bulls’ average margin of victory at home this season is 20 points. They’ve also won 30 of their last 32 regular season home games. I could keep listing stats that indicate the impossibility of the Raptors competing in this contest, but you’ll probably be watching Patriots-Broncos after the second quarter, anyway. I’m writing the recap for this game so I have to watch the whole thing. Lucky me.

Random thoughts…

  • Not many people outside of Chicago are talking about it, but Rose has evolved into much more of a pure point guard this season. His assists per game have increased from 7.7 to 8.5 since last season, while his field goal attempts per game have dropped from 19.7 to 16.0. His continual improvement is truly a joy to behold, and he’s still only 23 years old.
  • If you’re actually masochistic enough to watch most of this game, prepare yourself for the likelihood of getting punk’d by Kyle Korver. He’s shooting over 50 percent from long range so far this season and I expect to see a lot of drives-and-dishes from Rose to Korver tonight.
  • I’m not sure if this is funny, but it’s certainly weird. Here’s Jimmy Fallon as “Tebowie”:

Derrick Rose

Raise your hand if you predicted the Bulls would finish first in the East this season. As we all know, I can’t actually see your hand right now, but if you did raise your hand you’re probably lying. It didn’t seem likely that Derrick Rose would make the leap he has or that the Bulls would improve from 27th in offensive efficiency and 11th in defensive efficiency (points scored and allowed per 100 possessions) last season to 13th in offense and first in defense this season. Bulls fans could tell you that the addition of Carlos Boozer doesn’t have a lot to do with those improvements, so the bulk of the credit has to go to Rose and new coach Tom Thibodeau.

It remains a source of extreme frustration for me that I see other franchises make smart coach hirings like Thibodeau and Scott Brooks while the Raptors have continually been stuck with a procession of has-beens and never-weres at the position. I don’t believe you can necessarily coach players into being great offensive players, but I do feel there is a strong correlation between coaching and team defense. As you’re probably aware, the Raptors are on their way to finishing dead last in the NBA in defensive efficiency for the second straight season. And so the Bulls are now championship contenders while the Raptors are one of the biggest laughingstocks of the NBA. We reap what we sow.

Injury report

Toronto: Jose Calderon is out and Andrea Bargnani is listed as questionable.

Chicago: Joakim Noah is questionable for tonight with a sprained ankle.

Five questions

1. Do you think Derrick Rose has pretty much clinched this season’s MVP award and do you think he deserves it?

2. Should Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau be considered the favorite to win Coach of the Year?

3. Do you consider the Bulls to be the prohibitive favorite to represent the Eastern Conference in the finals this year?

4. Does Jose Calderon’s injury give Jerryd Bayless a legitimate shot at winning next season’s starting point guard job?

5. Which teams are you rooting for to emerge victorious from tonight’s Final Four matchups?

Start time: 8:00 PM ET
Channel: Sportsnet One
Probable starting lineups
Toronto: Jerryd Bayless, DeMar DeRozan, James Johnson, Ed Davis, Amir Johnson
Chicago: Derrick Rose, Keith Bogans, Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer, Kurt Thomas

Tonight’s pregame song is a live performance of “Get ‘em High” by Kanye West, Common and Talib Kweli from Dave Chappelle’s Block Party. Kanye and Common are from Chi-town, so this works for me. Embedding has been disabled for this video so I’ll have to link to it instead, but I think it’s worth it.