Keys to the Game: Bulls at Raptors (02.02.20)

The Bulls close out a three-game road swing with a stop North of the Border, visiting Toronto to complete the 2019-20 season series with the defending NBA Champion Raptors. Toronto won each of the two earlier get togethers at the United Center, 108-84 in late October, and 93-92 on December 9th. The Raptors swept the season series last year, 4-0, and in fact have beaten the Bulls 11 straight times coming into today.

For Chicago to stop the bleeding they're going to have to hit the floor focused and determined, delivering a hardnosed, blue collar effort from the moment the ball is tipped-off. Both teams are coming off Friday games, with Chicago having taken on the Brooklyn Nets in Gotham and the Raptors battling the Detroit Pistons in Motown. Leading into that clash the Raptors had won nine in a row and sported a 34-14 record, good for first in the Atlantic Division, and second overall in the East.

Offensively, to be effective, Chicago must play fast, yet poised, freely sharing the ball, crisply skipping it from player-to-player and from side-to-side in search of open looks at the rim and unprotected driving lanes to basket. Everyone must be engaged in the action. The ball can't suddenly get stuck in one player's hands while the rest stand still and watch. There must be a free-flowing, unselfish rhythm, where everyone moves in and out of the paint and around the arc, communicating and playing together.

Defensively, Chicago needs to impose its will with a hardnosed and determined effort. They must go all out after every rebound, and dive for every loose ball, while also sticking like glue to their assigned man and avoid falling into the trap of constantly fouling.

As a collective unit, the Bulls must take the floor resolute by out-working and out-executing the Raptors in every possible way.