Having lost their seventh game in ten on Tuesday night, the Toronto Raptors will be hoping to return to winning ways when they host the Chicago Bulls in Florida. Toronto sit two games behind their opponents, who won their last two against the Nets and Pacers prior to Thursday's matchup.
Fixture - Chicago Bulls vs Toronto Raptors | 2020-21 NBA Season.
Date & Time - Thursday, April 8th; 7:30 PM ET (Friday, April 9th; 6:00 AM IST)
Venue - Amalie Arena, Tampa, FL.
Chicago Bulls Preview
Although it took until Saturday for the Chicago Bulls to win their first game in seven matchups, they followed that victory over the Nets with another comfortable win against the Pacers on Tuesday. New signing Nikola Vucevic continued his dominance and proved why he is now the best Bulls player the franchise have acquired to pair with star Zach LaVine.
The two have the potential to carry Chicago to the playoffs who currently sit 4 games behind a guaranteed berth to avoid the play-in tournament.
Having two All-Stars on the roster draws so much of the opposing defense's attention that it will free the floor up for the Bulls' other scoring options, of which they have several.
Key Player - Nikola Vucevic
Nikola Vucevic's performance against the Pacers was by far his best in a Chicago Bulls jersey, despite averaging 20.8 points and 10 rebounds in his previous 4 appearances. 'Vooch' took control on offense in what was an abnormal shooting night for LaVine.
Knowing that Vucevic can shoot the ball from any position on the floor, the Chicago Bulls fed the big man all night, who finished on 29 field goals and made 48% of attempts. His statline of 32 points, 5 assists and 17 rebounds was the first time a Bulls player has achieved it since Michael Jordan, while his offensive boards tallied up to the same amount as the entire Pacers lineup combined.
Vucevic is going to be essential in the Chicago Bulls' rise up the East and would be a worthy adversary in a battle against any of the top 3 side's centers. Fans should be extremely excited to see how the season pans out and will be confident in knowing that LaVine is probably willing to stick around for at least another year.
Chicago Bulls Predicted Lineup
Point Guard - Zach LaVine l Shooting Guard - Tomáš Satoranský l Small Forward - Patrick Williams l Power Forward - Thaddeus Young l Center - Nikola Vucevic
Toronto Raptors Preview
The Toronto Raptors have been one of the most disappointing teams this season. Accustomed to dominating the Eastern Conference, the Raptors have done anything but this campaign.
They have the stars but they don't have the depth or the rebounding ability to challenge the league's top teams. More to the point, however, is that they have been sloppily losing games all season to teams they should be beating.
At the end of March, for example, the Raptors lost to the Pistons and Oklahoma City Thunder across three nights with 4 of the same starting five that played their final playoff game last season. Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka's departure inevitably hurt the Toronto Raptors, but they are in major need of a shake-up if they are to have any hope of making the postseason.
Key Player - Pascal Siakam
In their last five fixtures, in which the Toronto Raptors put on an array of differing performances, Pascal Siakam has remained dominant. He averaged 22.6 points and 6.4 rebounds in those matchups, including a team-leading 22-point effort against the Wizards on Monday.
Siakam's future is firmly rooted with the Toronto Raptors and he has formed a strong partnership with fellow star Fred VanVleet. Although the 26-year-old has been offensively more effective this season, his points average is down and so too is his shooting accuracy.
Fans will be hoping that, like the Toronto Raptors team as a whole, this is just an off year for the star.
Toronto Raptors Predicted Lineup
Point Guard - Fred VanVleet l Shooting Guard - Gary Trent Jr. l Small Forward - OG Anunoby l Power Forward - Pascal Siakam l Center - Chris Boucher
Bulls vs Raptors Match Prediction
This is a potentially exciting one for fans. Both sides have it all to play for as far as the postseason is concerned and currently rank one place apart for offensive efficiency. The struggling Toronto Raptors are going to face a long night guarding Chicago Bulls leader Nikola Vucevic.
With the Toronto Raptors in free fall recently, we are backing the Chicago Bulls to steal this game narrowly.
Where to watch the Bulls vs Raptors matchup
Fans can catch the game live on local networks NBC Sports Chicago and on TSN. With an NBA League Pass, the matchup can be streamed live at any time.