2023 NBA Playoffs: Can the Bulls realistically win the Play-In Tournament?

Zach LaVine, Patrick Beverley, Ayo Dosunmu, Chicago Bulls (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
Zach LaVine, Patrick Beverley, Ayo Dosunmu, Chicago Bulls (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images) /
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Chicago Bulls, Potential 2023 Play-In Tournament Opponents
Scottie Barnes, Zach LaVine, Chicago Bulls, Potential 2023 Play-In Tournament Opponents (Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images) /

Toronto Raptors (38-39, 9th Seed)

Notable Players:

  • Pascal Siakam (24.1 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 5.9 APG)
  • Fred VanVleet (19.7 PPG, 7.0 APG)
  • OG Anunoby (16.9 PPG, 1.9 SPG)

The Toronto Raptors are currently the team that is slated to play the Chicago Bulls in the 9/10 play-in game. The Raptors have been a very interesting team throughout the year. They have been seen as one of the more unlucky teams this season, having the 10th-best ELO rating according to FiveThirtyEight, but just the 18th-best record in the league.

Toronto has an excellent roster, led by Pascal Siakam who is putting up the best numbers of his career. The team is supplemented by excellent players such as Fred VanVleet, OG Anunoby, Gary Trent, Scottie Barnes, and trade deadline pickup Jakob Poeltl. The team plays excellent defense, as their scheme, athleticism, and size make it extremely hard to score.

The Raptors are built to stop teams that prefer to play inside the arc like the Bulls.

To win a game against the Raptors, the Chicago Bulls must first shoot the ball well from deep. The Raptors’ defense is dominant inside the paint, and Chicago will need to open up the floor in order to come out victorious. Additionally, the Bulls need to limit some of the supporting players on the Raptors.

One potential surprise player could be Jakob Poeltl, as he has put up some tremendous performances against the Bulls. In his last 8 games against Chicago, Poeltl has averaged 17.4 PPG and 10.4 RPG on 71.8% shooting. This cannot happen in a play-in game, as there are already so many scoring threats in Toronto’s arsenal. If the Bulls can play strong team defense and shoot well from long range, they can win this matchup and get one step closer to the playoffs.

The Raptors may have won two of three games played against the Bulls this season, but inner turmoil may make Toronto the ideal first-round matchup in the play-in tournament for Chicago.

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