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11 Takeaways from the Chicago Bulls loss to the Toronto Raptors

Will Gottlieb Avatar
November 25, 2023

After falling to the Toronto Raptors 121-108 in their third In-Season Tournament game, the Chicago Bulls are now 5-12 on the season. Things are not well.

Here’s 11 takeaways from the team’s latest loss …

1. After missing the last game with right foot soreness, Zach LaVine was back on the injury report prior to the game. Coby White (left ankle) was also listed as questionable. Both were game-time decisions, but they ultimately made the start. Would have been real ugly without them.

2. Alex Caruso left the game at the 7:35 mark in the third quarter and did not return. Billy Donovan said he wasn’t sure whether or not Caruso was able to come back into the game, so he played it safe.

Caruso played just 18 minutes and scored seven points on 2-of-3 shooting.

3. There were a handful of head scratching plays in that game, but this one was one of the worst.

Here are the questions I have about this play:

  • First of all, the Bulls have LaVine, DeMar DeRozan and Coby White on the floor, why is Caruso running pick-and-rolls?
  • It was a nice pass to the corner, why is Nikola Vucevic rolling into the driving lanes and planting his flag on the block? He’s completely clogged up the paint and prevented LaVine’s ability to attack the closeout
  • LaVine enters to Vucevic, fine. Why are the floor spacers around him not opening up any kick out windows, cutting back door or giving Vucevic outlets for spot up threes?
  • Jakob Poeltl is not a mismatch. Why is a baseline 16-foot, turnaround jumper the best they can do?

4. Coby White continued his hot shooting streak, making 4-of-7 threes. He was 15-of-30 in his last three games coming into Friday’s tilt with the Raptors. He was the reason the Bulls were in the game in the first quarter.

He finished with 14 points, three rebounds and three assists.

5. Zach LaVine was one of the only good things about the Bulls in this game. After taking 19 field goals in his previous two games combined, LaVine went 16-of-23 from the field en route to 36 points.

LaVine went hero mode, taking some incredibly high degree of difficulty shots. At times, he is too talented for his own good. LaVine likes to operate with his feet set. He likes to survey the floor and understand where he is in relation to the defenders.

This can cause him to eliminate the advantage the Bulls have worked to create, leaving themselves with a harder, more contested shot, or having to reset the offense from scratch.

Observe the difference between the first two plays in the following clip against the third. The first two were open looks that turned into contested shots. The third was a wide open shot coming off a screen. Makes a world of difference.

6. Julian Phillips, who had 29 points and 11 rebounds for the Windy City Bulls on Wednesday night, got minutes in the third quarter when the Bulls went down 17.

The game moves extremely fast for a irregular contributor and second round rookie like Phillips, but he had a nice driving layup attacking a closeout, narrowly missed a corner three and had some good defensive stands during his four minute stint.

7. At one point in the fourth quarter, Mark Schanowski, filling for Adam Amin on the NBC Broadcast, said “Patrick Williams, with his first rebound.”

That is all.

8. To be fair, Williams did come alive in the fourth quarter. He had a nice dunk in transition and a few garbage time threes. Also finished with five rebounds.

9. The Bulls attempted only 16 shots at the rim compared to the Raptors 27. The Bulls shot 56 percent at the rim, the Raptors shot 81.5 percent.

The Raptors are a long, active, scrambling team. They’re all over the place trying to run shooters off the line, rotate to cut off drives and repeat. When in doubt, they have Jakob Poeltl at the rim to block and deter shots.

Since the Bulls couldn’t get to the rim and still lost the free throw and three-point battle, it’s a surprise they kept the game as close as they did.

10. If the Bulls want to win games as a low volume three-point team, they have to win the Four Factors game. That means shooting efficiency, turnovers, offensive rebounding and free throws. The Bulls only won one of the four.

  • The Raptors beat the Bulls in the effective field goal percentage battle 60.8 to 58.5.
  • The Raptors beat the Bulls in the free throw battle 20-of-27 to 12-of-19
  • The Raptors beat the Bulls in the offensive rebounding battle 13-10
  • The Bulls beat the Raptors in the turnover battle 12-14

Spoiler: the Raptors also beat the Bulls in the three-point battle 13-of-39 to 12-of-27.

12. With their loss, the Bulls are officially eliminated from the NBA’s inaugural In-Season Tournament.

Raptors Pascal Siakam could have dribbled out the clock at the end of the game, but made a three to extend the lead. DeRozan didn’t like it and earned himself a second technical and was thrown out of the game.

For In-Season Tournament play, point differential can be a tie-breaker, so teams have been “running up the score” at times. Little did Siakam know, the Raptors had also been eliminated by that point, so it didn’t matter.

Up next: The Bulls road trip continues on Sunday night at the Barclays Center against the Brooklyn Nets

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