Chicago Bulls (20-36) vs. Toronto Raptors (40-16)
7 p.m., NBC Sports Chicago
Kris Dunn returns! After missing almost a month in concussion protocol, Chicago Bulls point guard Kris Dunn will play against the Raptors tonight and will also play in the Rising Stars game Friday during All-Star weekend. Tonight, Dunn will play about 20 minutes as he works his way back into game shape.
The Toronto Raptors injury report is squeaky clean.
In the context of the Bulls inexplicable recent dominance against the Raptors, the fact that they’ve lost to Toronto three times this season is unusual.
Dru Berry over at FanSided.com points out that the Raptors haven’t swept the Bulls in a season series since the 2001-2002 season and that the Bulls had won 10 of the last 11 matchups between the two teams before this season. Is the Trashtors era over?
Outside of a whipping on opening night back in mid-October, the Bulls have played Toronto pretty competitively this season. Containing DeMar DeRozan is paramount if the Bulls expect a win tonight, as he has been the game’s leading scorer in two out of the three matchups against the Bulls this season.
Breaking News: Denzel Valentine doesn’t have a Valentine.
Get on that ladies.
Also, the Bulls created their obligatory player Valentine’s Day cards on Twitter, which are good but can’t compete with this gem.
Now, back to basketball.
The Toronto Raptors are on a six-game winning streak as they have quietly overtaken the Boston Celtics for the top spot in the Eastern Conference standings. The All-Star backcourt of Kyle Lowry and DeRozan continue to lead the Raptors and watching the projected DeRozan and Zach LaVine matchup tonight should be fun.
Toronto backup point guard Delon Wright, who was on the Bulls draft radar in 2015, has been on the rise lately. He has averaged 10.4 points on 58.3 percent from the field in the Raptors last five games. Serge Ibaka and Jonas Valanciunas are a formidable frontcourt with good size that can stretch the floor on opponents a little bit.
While the Raptors rise, the Bulls continue their trek to the bottom of the standings. A win over the Orlando Magic on Monday hurt the tank, but was awfully predictable against an injury-plagued Magic squad.
While it’s understandably unfair to implore hyper-competitive NBA players to deliberately lose games, the Bulls coaching staff could be more proactive in ensuring a top pick in the draft next season by playing the deep bench players more often (Noah Vonleh, Cristiano Felicio, Cameron Payne, Paul Zipser) under the guise of development.