I had a chance to sit down with Toronto Raptors blogger Chase Ruttig from Raptors Rapture to chat about tonight’s game.
1. The Raptors aren’t having the best season, but it never seems they have a good one. What are the chances they turn it around and make a run at the playoffs? After all they’re only a few games out of the eight spot.
At the start of this last weekend I thought the Raptors could seriously improve their playoff chances with wins before this stretch with the Pacers, Bulls and Hawks, but dismal performances in every game besides for the Wolves and Kings games have left the Raptors being a likely 4-10 after these next two games and with Bargnani hurt that is a decent hole to climb out of. However this being the Eastern Conference, where a team can sneak into the playoffs well under .500 the Raptors do have the chance of making the playoffs if they can start giving full efforts every night. With Bayless and Aaron Gray coming back to help out the second unit the Raptors should improve their consistency soon. I give them around a 25% chance of grabbing the 7th/8th seed.
2. Toronto is a bi-polar team. They demolish a pretty good Timberwolves team, then turn right around and lose to then win-less Wizards team. Friday they nearly beat a very good Pacers team, so what kind of team are the Raptors?
The Raptors are a better than advertised team in the crazy compressed schedule. I mean Andrea Bargnani is playing unbelievable basketball, Jose Calderon is improved, Amir and James Johnson are playing great defense and are hopefully going to be key parts of the Raptors rebuilding process. The Raptors are right in the discussion with all the other fringe playoff teams in my opinion, but at the moment having the loss of their second unit point guard in Jerryd Bayless and Aaron Gray has made playing on back to backs a challenge physically due to their lack of depth at the moment. If the Raptors can get healthy, they can be a playoff team. In a season where everyone was more focused on who they would pick in the top five of the draft in the preseason than on court stories, it is a good sign.
3. You’re a scout for the Bulls, who on the Raptors should Chicago be most mindful of on tonight?
With Andrea Bargnani being hurt and DeMar DeRozan struggling early the most dangerous Raptor right now has to be Jose Calderon, who is having a revival to his Sam Mitchell era days at the point under Dwane Casey. Calderon is a amazing facilitator of the ball as well being an excellent jumpshooter. He might have problems with Rose tonight, but Calderon is probably the best player on the Raptors right now.
4. Alright put your Raptors cap back on, who on the Bulls besides Derrick Rose really makes you not want to play the Bulls tonight?
The bigs. The Bulls have young, energetic hard-working post players, and even Carlos Boozer is going to give the Raptors serious problems. Amir Johnson is playing great right now, but with Bargs either out or hurt and Aaron Gray also out the Raptors have to rely on Amir and Ed Davis to handle all of those Bulls post players.
5. The Bulls aren’t as bad as the Raptors in the identity department but they have lost huge leads in games as of late and have almost lost to the Wolves and Wizards. Given how the Bulls have exposed their own weaknesses, how confident are you the Raptors can win tonight? Will they? What’s the final score?
Being that this is a home/away back to back against one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference that plays great defense to give the Raptors troubles offensively I am rather confident that the Raptors will lose this game, but the Raptors defense will keep this game in the ten point range. Probably a 90-82 score or around there.