After last night’s first taste of postseason action, the moment we’ve all been waiting for is finally here. The Chicago Bulls begin their journey toward a second-consecutive postseason appearance by taking on the Toronto Raptors in the first round of the play-in tournament tonight. If they can win here, there’s no telling just how far they may go, but focusing in and playing each game like it is their last (because it quite literally could be) is the task that needs to be on every member of the roster’s mind right now.
The media may not favor the Bulls tonight. The bookies in Vegas certainly don’t either. Heck, even my own FanSided colleagues are skeptical of their odds, but none of that matters now. The Bulls have a distinct opportunity to make all the lows of this season all worth it, and do possibly the funniest thing possible by winning out in the play-in tournament.
The road to crowning Patrick Beverley as the best player in play-in tournament history starts here, tonight.
Will Chicago’s ‘Big 3’ all be available to play tonight?
Although Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan sat out the game against Dallas and played limited minutes in the season finale against Detroit, those seem to have been nothing more than precautionary measures. All three of Chicago’s primary offensive options in Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan, and Nikola Vucevic will be available for tonight’s action in Toronto. This will be a massive benchmark test for this team, as we’ll find out if they’re truly built to win now or not.
The Big 3’s performance tonight may have a huge impact on the front office’s decision-making this summer, as Vucevic is set to hit free agency while DeRozan is one of the NBA’s most interesting trade assets with one year left on his deal. If the Bulls perform up to their expected standard, the Big 3 may stick around for a while longer. If they don’t, however, this could very well be the last game we ever see these three players play together.
Chicago Bulls’ full updated injury report vs. Toronto Raptors on April 12
It should go without saying at this point, but Chicago will be without their primary playmaker in Lonzo Ball, who is of course listed out for tonight’s action. Fortunately, he’s the only member of the Bulls who is expected to be unavailable tonight. Considering the Bulls have been forced to deploy an ever-spinning carousel of role players off the bench, it’s nice to know that for once Chicago will (almost) all of its tools at their disposal for this big game.
This news should be followed with a massive sigh of relief from Bulls fans, as injuries have all too often dictated the fate of this franchise’s postseason hopes over the last 15 years. This year’s roster in particular has relied heavily on quality bench play and depth, so having Javonte Green and Alex Caruso out there and ready to go could be a big boon for the Bulls tonight.
Will the Toronto Raptors be at full strength for tonight’s play-in tournament game?
Just like the Bulls, the Raptors look ready to take on the play-in tournament and max capacity. Their lone player on the injury report is Otto Porter Jr., who underwent season-ending surgery on his left foot back in January. Toronto has had plenty of time to adapt since then and shouldn’t have any issues with their established on-court chemistry come game time.
With the injury reports practically a blank slate, there’s no longer any excuses to be made for either team tonight. It’s do-or-die time for the Bulls, can they keep their season alive? Tune in at 7 p.m. ET to find out.