The Chicago Bulls are set to face the Raptors in the 9/10 play-in game in Toronto. These two teams have been some of the more unlucky ones this season, as their records understate how good they are. The Bulls have just the 19th-best record in the NBA but the 13th-highest point differential, and the Raptors have a similar story with the 18th-best record while ranking 12th in point differential.
Over the course of the season, the Bulls are 1-2 against Toronto. The two teams split a back-to-back on November 6 and 7, and Toronto won the tiebreak on February 28 behind a strong 4th quarter that led to a 104-98 win.
Now, the Bulls are going to face a team that has gotten the better of them this season, in what will be their most important game of the year. If the Bulls want to pull out a win, these three players will need to bring their A-game.
The Chicago Bulls face a tough test in their first play-in matchup against the Toronto Raptors, but these three players can make the Bulls come out on top.
1. Zach LaVine
This one is pretty self-explanatory, especially considering the Chicago Bulls’ performance when Zach LaVine plays well. In the 23 games in which Zach has scored 28+ points, the Bulls are 18-5. This is an outstanding mark that shows the importance the Bulls’ max player has on the team’s winning.
The play of LaVine lately has been something to behold. Since the All-Star break, the 28-year-old is averaging 27.5 points per game on 53.7/40.2/87.4 shooting, which is some outrageous efficiency. He has greatly improved his shot selection and has been more aggressive when it comes to getting to the basket. There were times in the past when LaVine would regularly settle for ill-advised threes, but now he is forcing defenses to respect his game everywhere on the court.
Plays like this one were not typically seen from him in the past, and this prevented the two-time all-star from unlocking the potential that he has shown. LaVine is beginning to emerge as the top dog on the team, and it is vital that he shows out against the Raptors on Wednesday.
In the two games that LaVine played against the Raptors this season, he showed his importance to the team. In the game they won, LaVine scored 30 points on 55% shooting and was a force to be reckoned with. In the Bulls’ loss, Zach shot the ball only 12 times and finished with 17 points, which was not enough to get the job done. Zach LaVine cannot let this happen again, or the Bulls will likely be going home early.