The Bulls Come Running Into Toronto

Joakim Noah returns tonight for the Chicago Bulls the last game he played in the NBA this season was in Toronto. On December 15th he had a double double with 11 points and 11 rebounds with the full knowledge that he was going to be out for surgery on his injured thumb after that game. The Bulls won on that night going away with the score 110-93. This will be the 3rd of 4 meetings between that Raptors and Bulls this season and the Bulls hold a 2-0 lead in the season series. Neither contest so far this season with the Bulls has been close. The Raptors season was pretty much put on ice with a terrible loss to the Bulls that ended their playoff chances last season. Earlier in the week in talking with Chuck Swirsky. I mentioned the Bulls are a dark horse for a lot of folks in the East. Most would give the Eastern Conference to either the Celtics or the Heat, but the Bulls have been right there. Many have been looking at Derrick Rose as a legit M.V.P candidate. I would also suggest Tom Thibodeau deserves a look as coach of the year. He has been great in his first year replacing Vinny Del Negro that fell out of favour with the organization clashing with management. Thibodeau was given credit as the lead assistant to Doc Rivers for the Celtics great defence. He has brought that defensive mentality with him to Chicago and the improvement in the Bulls record as a result has been noticeable. This game comes a day after the Raptors and Bulls swung a deal for James Johnson the Bulls 1st round pick (16th overall) in Demar DeRozan's draft year. The Raptors gave their Miami first round pick acquired in the Chris Bosh sign and trade in the Summer. Johnson may suit up against his former team if all the paper work clears prior to game time. He never was able to crack the Bulls rotation under Del Negro or Thibodeau.

The Basics: Bulls 38-16 (13-12 on Road) Raptors 15-42 ( 9-27 vs East)

When Last We Saw Them: Raptors had a good first 9 minutes and then it all pretty much went down hill from there. Raptors got pounded from that point on. When the dust settled the Raptors had another loss on the ledger and officially will finish the season below .500 matching the loss total from last season.

Key Match Ups: Raptors point guard play has not been good and now they face Derrick Rose. This does not look good for the dinosaurs does it. Rose in his relatively short NBA Career so far has had some great success against the Raptors. It begins with that for the Raptors to stop Rose. But you now also have to face a duo of Noah and Boozer? Which of those two is Andrea Bargnani gonna shutdown? Neither? That may in fact be the correct answer. If the Raptors have any advantage in this one it might be Demar DeRozan with the advantage over Bogans. But Demar needs to be careful not leave Bogans on D or he has ability to get hot and light it up from three point range. Bulls also have Kyle Korver coming off the bench while were talking about 3's.

Other Things Of Note: James Johnson in 78 career NBA games has only averaged 3.8 points per game and his numbers in his sophomore season are down across the board in only 13 games this season. Your odd stat of the night is this....When Keith Bogans scores 6 or more points the Bulls are 16-1. Bulls hold teams to 92.4 points per game and average 44 rebounds a night. Which if the Bulls meet that average of 92.4 points the Raptors are in trouble as Raptors record scoring less than 100 points is 4-25. It is not going to be easy for the Raptors anyway you cut it. Add in the fact the Bulls were in Toronto last night while the Raptors while the Raptors were playing the Bobcats. Raptors are 4-8 in the second half of a back to back this season.

Where is it on? Sportsnet 1 ( It is Hockey Trade Line time are you surprised? )

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