NBA Basketball
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4:30 PM PT5:30 PM MT6:30 PM CT7:30 PM ET23:30 GMT7:30 4:30 PM MST6:30 PM EST3:30 UAE (+1)00:3019:30 ET5:30 PM CT22:30 , April 8, 2021
Amalie Arena, Tampa, Florida

Bulls, Raptors battle for playoff positioning

According to STATS
According to STATS

Chicago Bulls at Toronto Raptors

  1. The Bulls beat the Raptors by 23 points in the first meeting of the year between these teams on March 14, their largest win over Toronto since a 37-point victory on February 19, 1998. The victory also snapped the Bulls' 12-game losing streak to the Raptors, which began in 2017.
  2. Chicago outrebounded Indiana by 24 in its 113-97 win on Tuesday, its best mark in any game over the last seven seasons. The Bulls have an average rebounding margin of +8.7 since acquiring Nikola Vucevic on March 25, the best mark in the Eastern Conference in that span.
  3. Nikola Vucevic had 32 points, 17 rebounds and five assists in the win, in the process becoming the fifth Bull in the last 30 years to have a 30-15-5 line in a game. He joins Pau Gasol, Joakim Noah, Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen.
  4. After two straight wins, the Raptors lost to the Lakers on Tuesday, 110-101. Toronto shot 15.2 percent (5/33) from three in the loss, its second-worst mark out of 349 all-time games, including the postseason, in which it attempted at least 30 threes (14.3 percent at Miami on January 2, 2020).
  5. Pascal Siakam has recorded at least 20 points and five rebounds in each of his last nine home games, the sixth-longest such streak in franchise history. The only three Raptors with longer streaks are Chris Bosh (three different streaks of 17, 12 and 10), Kawhi Leonard (12) and Vince Carter (10).
  6. The Raptors lead the NBA this season in average turnover margin at +3.3 while the Bulls rank last at -2.5. Toronto forces a league-high 16.6 turnovers per game defensively while Chicago commits a league-high 15.7 turnovers per contest.

Two teams dueling for the 10th and final playoff position in the Eastern Conference will go head-to-head Thursday night when the Chicago Bulls visit the Toronto Raptors in Tampa, Fla.

The Bulls have won two straight after a six-game skid, and the Raptors are coming off a loss that followed two consecutive wins as the teams prepare to meet for the second of three times this season.

Chicago (21-28) has a leg up on Toronto (20-31) not only in the standings but also in the first tiebreaker, having prevailed 118-95 in a March 14 meeting in Chicago. The three-game season series is slated to be completed May 13 in the Windy City.

The Bulls have put their new look on full display in beating Brooklyn and Indiana in their past two games, with Orlando import Nikola Vucevic averaging 27 points and 15 rebounds in the wins.

A deeper bench bolstered by the addition of Daniel Theis at the trade deadline also has contributed to the wins. Theis had 10 points in the triumph over the Nets, while Lauri Markkanen and Coby White combined for 28 as reserves against the Pacers.

Rookie Patrick Williams, who had 23 points in the win over the Raptors last month, chipped in with double-figure scoring (11 and 10 points) in the Bulls' two most recent victories.

Bulls coach Billy Donovan noted after Tuesday's win over Indiana that he's been impressed with the transition of Vucevic and Zach LaVine, two high scorers, into complementary pieces.

"Zach needs to be who he is and Vooch needs to be who he is, and as long as we're generating good shots and we're efficient with what we're doing offensively, I really don't care who gets the shots," Donovan said. "And I think those guys would say the same thing. For as great of a scorer as Zach is and for as great of a scorer as Vooch is, these guys are team guys and want to win."

Toronto played short-handed in its 110-101 home loss to the Lakers on Tuesday, with Fred VanVleet and Kyle Lowry among the key players missing. The Raptors were walking on eggshells Wednesday in hopes the NBA would not suspend OG Anunoby after his ejection from Tuesday's game that resulted from a scuffle with Montrezl Harrell.

Gary Trent Jr. and Malachi Flynn helped fill voids with 11 points apiece. For Flynn, it was his third straight game scoring in double figures after having done so just once in Toronto's first 48 contests.

Raptors coach Nick Nurse said Flynn's progression into more of a scorer began when the coaches instructed him to be more aggressive offensively instead of worrying about running the show.

"We've asked him to really start attacking the rim," Nurse explained. "Like right up the floor, when he sees an opening, he's got to shoot in there. If he can blast through there and gets a few layups here and there, that goes a long way to helping our offense."

Thursday's game completes a four-game homestand for the Raptors and continues a five-game trip for the Bulls.

--Field Level Media

Updated April 7, 2021

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