Matchup: Toronto Raptors vs. Chicago Bulls
Records: Raptors (20-31), Bulls (21-28)
Where to Watch
Date: Thursday, April 8
Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
Location: Amalie Arena, Tampa, FL
They don't get much bigger than this one for a regular-season contest.
With just over 20 games remaining, the Bulls currently stand 2.0 games ahead of the Raptors for the final spot in this year's NBA Playoffs Play-In Tournament.
Chicago handled Toronto in the first meeting between these two teams back on March 14, with rookie forward Patrick Williams having one of the best games of his young career with 23 points to lead the charge. That means that the Bulls only need one more win to take the season series and tiebreaker against the Raptors, so stakes are high for this showdown.
Chicago is a different team since the last time Toronto saw it. Adding All-Star centre Nikola Vucevic at the trade deadline, the Bulls added a key cog in the centre of their offence and defence to try and help them make an extra push to return to the postseason for the first time since 2017.
The trade hasn't gone exactly as planned so far, but Vucevic is just starting to get comfortable in Chicago's system. The Bulls lost four straight after acquiring the 30-year-old big man, but they have since won two games in a row heading into this contest. Vucevic is averaging a strong 22.7 points, 10.8 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.0 blocks per game while shooting 51.4 percent from the field in his new threads; he should pose a huge matchup problem for the dwindled Raptors frontcourt.
HAVE A NIGHT, VOOCH.- Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls) April 7, 2021
32 pts | 14-29 FG | 4 threes | 17 reb | 5 ast pic.twitter.com/wBZyuX3PYC
Toronto will once again be down a number of bodies, as Kyle Lowry, Fred VanVleet, Rodney Hood, Patrick McCaw, Paul Watson and Jalen Harris all remain out. Lowry has missed five of the last six games with a foot infection, while VanVleet has missed two in a row with a hip pointer.
Rookie guard Malachi Flynn has stepped into a much bigger role because of the void left behind from the team's two leaders, posting 14.3 points, 6.3 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 2.7 steals and 1.3 blocks over the last three games.
With a thin depth chart, can players like Pascal Siakam, OG Anunoby and Gary Trent Jr. elevate their play to help the Raptors come away with one of their biggest wins of the season? Will Chris Boucher and Aron Baynes be able to contain the prolific scoring centre Vucevic in a fashion that we've seen from former Toronto big man Marc Gasol?
The answer to those questions will be the key to the outcome of this one.
- Jalen Harris (right hip pointer) - Out
- Rodney Hood (right hip soreness) - Out
- Patrick McCaw (left knee swelling) - Out
- Paul Watson (Health and Safety Protocols) - Out
- Kyle Lowry (right foot infection) - Out
- Fred VanVleet (hip) - Out
- DeAndre' Bembry (suspension) - Out
- Devon Dotson (not with team) - Out
- Zach LaVine (left ankle sprain) - Probable
- Lauri Markkanen (right lower leg) - Probable
- Adam Mokoka (not with team) - Out
- Garrett Temple (right hamstring strain) - Out
- Coby White (left cervical pain) - Probable
Raptors vs. Bulls: Betting odds, spread, over/under
Spread: Bulls -4.0 (-110), Raptors +4.0 (-110)
Raptors Money line: +155
Bulls Money line: -175
Over/under: 221.0 (-110)
*Odds courtesy of William Hill Sports Book
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