The Bulls took a vital win from their visit to Tampa Bay. In a direct duel against the Raptors, their great rival for taking the last place in play-in in the East, Illinois won 113-122 and dealt a severe blow to the Canadians, who are already three games behind in the standings. Chicago thus links three consecutive victories, reinforcing its condition as a candidate to be one of the eight teams that end up contesting the playoffs of its conference.
Donovan’s side took advantage of significant casualties from the Raptors, who had only eight players available and had men of the caliber of Fred VanVleet and Kyle Lowry on the casualty list. This greatly complicated the situation for the Nurses, who nevertheless knew how to find a figure to lean on in the face of the plague of absences.
This was none other than Chris Boucher’s, who has been vindicating himself all season whenever he has the opportunity but this morning he took his game to another level. With 38 points and 19 rebounds, the Canadian broke his personal best in both respects, and offered an absolutely dominant version that, however, was of little use when he was so alone.
And, apart from Pascal Siakam and his 27 goals, the rest of the Canadian squad were far from shining. Without going any further, Malachi Flynn and Gary Trent Jr., who composed the backcourt A starter against the aforementioned casualties, they combined for a 5/25 shooting from the field (3/11 and 2/14 respectively), and overall there was little to note beyond Boucher, making Toronto an easy prey for a few. Bulls who managed to send by more than 15 points of advantage for many minutes.
In his case, Chicago had a much more distributed scoring, as seven of the nine men who stepped on the track managed to finish in double digits. Zach LaVine and Nikola Vucevic, with 22 points, led this section, followed by Lauri Markkanen’s 18 and Coby White’s 15, who served as leaders of the second unit. LaVine also added 13 assists and scored two decisive baskets when Toronto threatened to close in the fourth quarter, thus establishing himself as the visitors’ hero.
With this victory, the Bulls not only leave the Raptors well behind, but continue to approach the ninth place occupied by the Pacers. Perhaps this victory will allow them to start looking more up than down, although to do so they will have to continue this good moment of form in the three away games that lie ahead.
(Cover photo: Jonathan Daniel / Getty Images)