Game: Chicago Bulls @ Toronto Raptors
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Odds: Bulls +5.5, Raptors -5.5
The Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet believes the Eastern Conference play-in tournament’s format is favorable for his team. Toronto, the ninth-seeded team, can move a step closer to earning a spot in the playoffs when it hosts the No. 10 seed Chicago Bulls tonight. The winner will play the Miami Heat on Friday for the right for the eighth and final playoff spot.
The Atlanta Hawks beat Miami 116-105 last night to earn the No. 7 seed. Miami will host the winner of tonight’s game. The loser of tonight’s game, of course, is out. The team that does earn the No. 8 seed will get the opportunity to play the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks in the first round of the playoffs.
Toronto defeated Chicago 2-1 in the regular-season series, winning both games on its home court. Since Toronto’s 104-98 victory at home on February 28, the Raptors (41-41) and Bulls (40-42) haven’t faced each other. In that Raptors win, Pascal Siakam led a balanced Raptors offense with 20 points while Nikola Vucevic led the Bulls with 23.
DeMar DeRozan, a longtime former Raptor and Chicago’s second-leading scorer, attempted just 26 shots against Toronto during the regular season and finished with 42 points overall, 10.5 fewer than his season average of 24.5 points per game. DeRozan will have to be a bit more aggressive tonight if the Bulls are going to extend their season.
The Bulls feel rejuvenated despite being inconsistent throughout the season after a historic run to the playoffs in 2021–2022. Bulls head coach Billy Donovan was able to manage the team’s minutes down the stretch once it was known Chicago would be in the play-in tournament.
During the regular season, the Bulls averaged just 10.4 made three-pointers per game, which was tied for last in the NBA. Hitting more threes and ball security will be key tonight. In that Feb. 28 game against the Raptors, Chicago had 20 turnovers. Those turnovers led to 21 Toronto points.
What some may not realize is that since the All-Star break, the Bulls lead the NBA in points allowed per game (107.9). That’s just slightly better than the No. 2 team – Toronto (108.6). Overall for the season, the Raptors rank fifth (111.5) and the Bulls are seventh (112.2).
Defense is one of the reasons why tonight’s total is set at 213.5. All three of this season’s meetings resulted in the total going Under. Those three games averaged a combined 209 points per game. Over the last ten games in the series, the Under is 7-3 and the teams have averaged just north of 218 points. The Bulls have actually trended Over with seven of their last 10 totals going Over.
The Bulls are 4-2 SU and ATS in their last six games. They are also 7-3 SU and ATS in their last 10 games against Toronto. The Raptors are 6-3 SU in their last nine games. They are 11-1 SU in their last 12 games at home and 9-2 SU in their last 11 games at home against the Bulls.
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