In an Eastern Conference where two handfuls of teams are wallowing in mediocrity, there’s more potential for meaningful games in a wide open playoff race. The Raptors have had their struggles, but they’re nowhere near out of the hunt for play in games (if they so choose to go for it). Right now, looking just above them in the standings at that last playoff spot: the similarly struggling Chicago Bulls.
The Bulls made some ambitious moves at the trade deadline, the biggest being the acquisition of longtime Marc Gasol offspring Nikola Vucevic. Adding some frontcourt scoring to the wing talents of Zach LaVine seemed like a no-brainer win, but Chicago has lost six of their last eight anyway.
Tonight, if the Raptors are going to make up some ground on their two-game deficit in the standings, they’ll need to do it shorthanded. A grand total of seven players are sitting out tonight, for both injury reasons (Kyle Lowry with foot soreness and Fred VanVleet with a hip injury being the most notable) and for suspensions — DeAndre’ Bembry will miss a game after leaving the bench during the OG Anunoby / Dennis Schroder wrestling match on Tuesday. VanVleet was also suspended a game, but will serve it when he’s next available to play.
The bright spot is that tonight will be the first career start for Malachi Flynn, who has played intermittently great basketball of late coming off the bench.
For more, check out this morning’s preview from Josh Kern. Here are the game details.
Where to Watch
TSN, 7:30 PM ET
Toronto — Malachi Flynn, Gary Trent Jr., OG Anunoby, Pascal Siakam, Chris Boucher
Chicago — Zach LaVine, Tomas Satoransky, Thaddeus Young, Patrick Williams, Nikola Vucevic
Toronto — DeAndre’ Bembry (out – suspension), Kyle Lowry (out – foot), Rodney Hood (hip – out), Paul Watson (health and safety protocols – out), Patrick McCaw (knee – out), Fred VanVleet (hip – out), Jalen Harris (hip – out)
Chicago — Garrett Temple (out – hamstring), Adam Mokoka (out), Devon Dotson (out)