Bulls look to avoid being swept by Raptors for first time since 2002

CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 26: Lauri Markkanen
CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 26: Lauri Markkanen /

The Chicago Bulls and Toronto Raptors square off Wednesday at the United Center. Can the Bulls prevent the unthinkable?

Two days after a last second win against the Orlando Magic, the Chicago Bulls welcome the Toronto Raptors into town.

Lauri Markkanen was a menace in the paint and the Bulls were able to find him for easy buckets. Markkanen finished with 21 points, but Zach LaVine came through with the most important (or fateful, depending on who you ask) play of the night.

LaVine stole a Johnathan Simmons inbound pass with 15 seconds left and cruised in for an easy dunk to seal the game. LaVine scored 18 points and served up five helpers.

However, Wednesday’s matchup with Toronto presents a different challenge for Chicago. Normally the Bulls play well against the Raptors, prevailing no matter how good either team is and had won 10 of the previous 11 outings before this season.

Not so this season. The Bulls have lost three times to this iteration of the Raptors and Wednesday’s game represents the final time they’ll play.

For reference, Toronto hasn’t swept the season series with Chicago since 2001-2002. Chicago finished that season 21-61 and rotated through three head coaches: Tim Floyd, Bill Berry (??) and Bill Cartwright.

A future head coach was even on the team in the form of, you guessed it, Fred Hoiberg.

K.C. Johnson made a list of some of Charles Oakley’s greatest quotes about that season, I’d really recommend reading them to get an idea of just how bad the Bulls were.

Meanwhile, the Raptors had Vince Carter and made the playoffs.

This season appears to be playing out the same way. Chicago is once again a bad, rebuilding team with some enticing talent in Markkanen, LaVine and Kris Dunn. The 2001-2002 Bulls had Tyson Chandler, Eddy Curry and Jamal Crawford. A win Wednesday would be the 21st of the season.

Toronto is better than in 2001-2002, sitting at first place in the east with 40 wins. DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry are arguably playing the best basketball of their careers with a strong and deep supporting cast.

While Chicago’s odds of winning seem low, consider this. In 2007-2008 the Bulls were in danger of being swept by the Raptors heading in to the final game of the season.

But a ragtag group of Bulls, led by Tyrus Thomas and Joakim Noah, defeated their Canadian foe 107-97.

Will history repeat itself tonight?

Injury/Absence Report

Chicago: Kris Dunn (concussion) is uncertain, while Cameron Payne (right foot) is out.

Toronto: N/A

Here’s all the information you’ll need for Wednesday’s game, including links to stream the Bulls facing the Raptors and a link for the radio call in the Chicagoland area.

Game: Chicago Bulls vs. Toronto Raptors

When: Wednesday, February 14

Where: Chicago, IL

Arena: United Center

Tip-off time: 7 p.m. CT

Live Stream: NBC Sports ChicagoFubo TV,