How the Raptors match up against the Bulls
Imman Adan and Chris Walder look at the current state of the Bulls and how the Raptors can win Tuesday's crucial tilt. Listen to the full episode on the 'Raptors Over Everything' podcast feed.
IMMAN ADAN: The team looks a little scary right now. They're really small, so I'm looking at how the Raptors match up with them. Alex Caruso plays the four for them, right? Like, when we're talking about a team like the Cavaliers, where you're just like, OK, Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley are very big humans, and you're going to a team like the Chicago Bulls, it's very different.
But when their shot is on, it is scary. When you have both Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan going off, it's scary. However, for them, that just has not been the case most nights. And this offense has not been what they've been able to produce most nights.
And so what do you think the Raptors look like against that Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan Chicago Bulls?
CHRIS WALDER: Well it's going to be difficult because Chicago is especially feisty on defense now that they got Patrick Beverley in the fold.
IMMAN ADAN: Yeah.
CHRIS WALDER: But with Beverley's defense comes his lack thereof on the offensive end. But that's kind of deterred by the fact that you obviously have two exceptional wing talents in DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine. You don't need Patrick Beverley to score 15 or 20 points a night. You don't need Alex Caruso to score 20 points a night. They have very concise, defined roles.
IMMAN ADAN: Alex Caruso's like, phew! [LAUGHS]
CHRIS WALDER: He's like, dude--
IMMAN ADAN: Can I give you 8?
CHRIS WALDER: --I'll take my Manscaped money. I'll do whatever you need to do. But, like, let me just steal the ball and run in transition, and that's all I need to do.
But that's what kind of I like about the makeup of the Bulls right now. They're not going to be an easy out. They're in the same position as the Toronto Raptors. They're circling this date on the calendar as a big game in terms of positioning in the Eastern Conference standings.
And of course, with DeMar DeRozan's past against the Toronto Raptors, he always-- he's another guy who circles--
IMMAN ADAN: Revenge game!
CHRIS WALDER: --oh, I'm playing my old team. Revenge game, in a sense. I think the Raptors have the matchup advantages to start. But now, they are coming back down to Earth. And again, the Washington Wizards also in that play-in picture as well.
Like I said earlier, this is a very important game. The Raptors can't play Chicago's game, which is kind of slowing it down. And then again, they will get right up in your grill. If you think Cleveland was doing that a lot today, Chicago will do that and then some.
IMMAN ADAN: Yeah, and if I got you to look into your crystal ball again, Chris? Because I know that you double as a fortune teller.
CHRIS WALDER: My head is big, but it's not a crystal ball, unfortunately. I'm just kind of using the mic here.
IMMAN ADAN: What would you predict the outcome of that game is? Do you think the Raptors pull it out on Tuesday night?
CHRIS WALDER: What do you want me to say, Imman? I'm on Yahoo Sports Canada. I'm talking about the Toronto Raptors. No, the Chicago Bulls, they got our number.
IMMAN ADAN: DeMar DeRozan.
CHRIS WALDER: [LAUGHS]
IMMAN ADAN: Hey, there are some people who really want you to say that because they're still on team tank. So you know, you'll make someone happy.
CHRIS WALDER: I will say this-- I think DeMar DeRozan's going to have a great game against us. I think he goes for at least 28 to 30 points. But I like the Raptors' chances of pulling it out.
Again, I am not dwelling on the past, or in this case, the current with how this Cleveland Cavaliers game went. I think the Raptors truly do want to make the most of this end of the season. And again, the Chicago Bulls are standing in their way when it comes to moving up in that play-in or even getting into the Eastern Conference standings.
So with that being said, let DeMar get his. If you can stifle either LaVine or Vucevic in the paint, that's great. I think the Raptors pull this out.
IMMAN ADAN: Yeah, I want to remain optimistic as well. But you know what? My reverse jinx has been impeccable all year. So it's going to be a tough game. I'm so sorry, Toronto Raptors fans, unless you're team tank.
I obviously don't know. I don't know. I'm just trying to be-- I'm just trying to take a contrarian stance here. But--
CHRIS WALDER: It's reverse psychology.
IMMAN ADAN: --the Raptors should win it. And if they don't, that's a problem. I think with--
CHRIS WALDER: We still got two games against Washington, you know what I mean? It's not the end of the world, but try and pull it off.
IMMAN ADAN: But I think that, like, to me, beyond it being a problem just for where you sit in the standings, to me, it's a problem because you need to look at yourself as a team that's better than the Chicago Bulls, right? Like, if you are trading a pick for Jakob Poeltl-- and according to Givony, it is not a great draft class, and everybody should be trading their 2024 picks. So that's kind of-- if you want to take solace in that, that was what was said on "The Lowe Post."
But I think if you're the Raptors right now, you're like, we traded a first round pick because we believed in this core and we believed in what you guys can do. And if you're still not good enough against the Chicago Bulls, that's a problem.
Because this is a game that actually matters. This isn't just a random game in January, or a random game in February, or March-- I don't even know when the new month begins. But this is a game that actually matters for the outlook of this team. It matters to go up against this team and actually win.
You can say the Cavs one was a game that you were going to lose because it was the second night of a back-to-back, because you don't have Fred VanVleet, because you're not actually chasing them in the standings-- OK, fine and dandy. You're going to lose some games along the way. But the Chicago Bulls is a game that you're supposed to win. And so if you lose it, I do think that that's a problem.
CHRIS WALDER: And as well, look, you've got Jakob Poeltl for games like this. He matches up great against a Vucevic. If you had Poeltl on this roster earlier in the season when a Zubac from the Clippers and Steven Adams were putting up crazy numbers against us, they're not doing anything close to that if Poeltl's out there.
IMMAN ADAN: Yeah.
CHRIS WALDER: So again, he matches up well against a Vucevic. And again, if you can keep DeMar or Zach LaVine cold shooting--
IMMAN ADAN: These are the matchups you got him for, for sure.
CHRIS WALDER: --no reason to think Toronto won't win this game.
IMMAN ADAN: Yeah, no, definitely, these are the exact matchups that you brought him for. So, like, hey, this is when you got to prove it, that you're worth keeping together, because free agency is going to come. And how are you going to convince yourself it's worth almost entering the luxury tax-- I don't think the Raptors are going to enter the luxury tax for this team, but brushing up against it, at the very least-- for a team that can't even beat the Chicago Bulls in a must-win game?
So that's sort of my thoughts on it. But yeah, so I'm going to predict a win.