Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

It's The #3 Seed The Bulls Seek...How'd The Raptors Do This Week?

It has been an interesting week and a half for the Chicago Bulls. They escape the embarrassment of being the team that breaks the Philadelphia 76ers historic NBA record losing streak (as of this writing 26 straight games tying 2010 Cleveland Cavaliers) and gained a split with the number one seed Indiana Pacers. The Bulls played the exact way against both teams. The first game they played these respective teams they were awful. The Bulls slept walked through the game in Philadelphia and couldn’t hit the side of a barn leaning up against it while in Indiana. In the second game against these teams the defense dominated both teams when they came the Chicago. All in all, the Bulls finished 3-1 for the week coming into the game against the Portland Trail Blazers. How did the Toronto Raptors do? Let’s take a look…

Toronto Raptors (#3 seed) tied with the Chicago Bulls in the loss column…2-2 this week.

Wins over Atlanta Hawks 96-86 and Boston Celtics 99-90.

The Raptors can be had Pippen Peoples. Toronto won this game against Atlanta 96-86. However they had  to come back from a 14 point deficit in the 4th quarter to do it. Kyle Lowry scored 13 of his 25 points in the final frame to lead the Raptors in the comeback. Here’s something to watch for the next few games, Lowry has his minutes monitored. Is Kyle Lowry starting to wear down in time for the playoffs? We’ll see. DeMar DeRozan is turning into an out-and-out baller scoring 21 points. Toronto played an awful first quarter in which they had more turnovers (7) than baskets (5). I know one  thing, if they bring performances like that to Chicago and it will be a good night for the Bulls. As for the Hawks, they are getting close to the back door as the New York Knicks are getting closer to the 8th seed.

On Wednesday, the Toronto Raptors basically put themselves  in position to win the Atlantic Division by beating the Boston Celtics 99-90. They would have clinched, but the New York Knicks defeated the Sacramento Kings. If the Raptors beat the Celtics again on Friday they will win the division outright. Terrence Ross scored 24 points while Kyle Lowry poured in 23. DeMar DeRozan finished with 20. This is a wonderful story for the city of Toronto and the NBA in general. The Raptors basically used the same blueprint that the Bulls have done this year by trading their leading scorer Rudy Gay to the Sacramento Kings which opened up the offense for younger players to develop. Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan both have taken their games to the next level and the Raptors have benefitted as well. If the Raptors wasn’t north of the border, they would be getting a lot more press than they are receiving.

Losses to Oklahoma City Thunder 119-118 and Cleveland Cavaliers 102-100.

As I said before, if the Raptors have a weakness it’s blowing leads late. Toronto had a 118-110 lead in the second overtime and should have had this game in hand with 49 seconds to go. It wasn’t Reggie Miller who scored eight points in nine seconds  against my Knicks or Tracy McGrady scoring 13 points in 35 seconds against the San Antonio Spurs, but it was close. Kevin Durant knocks down a three-point shot. Then Derek Fisher knocks down a three, then Kevin Durant knocks down a three with 1.7 seconds left to lift the Thunder over the Raptors 119-118. Greivis Vasquez compared the man to Jesus. Hey Greivis, come on man, really? But I will say this, everyone should start calling him the next MVP. Durant lit Toronto up for 51 points and still found time to grab 12 rebounds. Russell Westbrook aggravated his surgically repaired knee again  and had to sit out. DeMar DeRozan led the Raptors with 33 points. Former Chicago Bull Amir Johnson had 25 points and 12 rebounds. Kyle Lowry had 25 points while Vasquez finished with 21. John Salmons bricked two free throws to set up the final Durant heroics. Question for everyone, how long has John Salmons been in the league? 30 years?

The Raptors had a very bad loss to the Kyle Irving less Cleveland Cavaliers 102-100. Not much to this game. Toronto was sloppy and fell behind by 21 points before clawing their way back to a 95-94 lead in the 4th quarter. They then proceeded to score five points in the last six or seven minutes of the game. It’s hard to decipher whether Dion Waiters is the real deal and Irving is cramping his game or is the Raptors backcourt struggling to keep guards in front of them. It will be interesting to see with Friday’s game with Rajon Rondo bringing the ball up for Boston. The Raptors had a chance to win it but Greivis Vasquez made Shaqtin A Fool and fell down and the game ended. Kyle Lowry led the Raptors with 22 points. Terrence Ross and Vasquez had 16. More missed free throws hurt the Raptors in the 4th quarter. Execution in the 4th quarter is becoming a bug a boo for Toronto.

If you compare the weeks of these two teams. It bodes well for the Chicago Bulls. The Bulls have done a better job of execution of their offense while the Raptors have faded late. If this trend continues down the stretch, the Chicago Bulls will take the third seed. For continuing coverage of the Eastern Conference race, log on to  Pippen Ain’t Easy for the analysis for your Chicago Bulls and all teams that affect their positioning through to the playoffs.

 

 

 

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