Keys To The Game: Bulls vs. Raptors (3.21.22)

The Bulls have perhaps their biggest game of the year so far as they take on the Toronto Raptors on Monday night. This game could have huge playoff implications, with Toronto a mere 1.5 games back of Chicago in the standings.

Toronto is an unorthodox team. One that starts a lineup with all wings and bigs, forcing opponents to adjust to their style of play. The Bulls lead the season series 2-1 and are looking to avoid the Raptors evening up the series in their last matchup before a possible postseason clash.

Spread out the Toronto defense

The Raptors have a starting five with no player shorter than 6-foot-5. When they are locked in defensively, it is extremely tough to drive on this team and poor floor spacing actually makes it impossible to drive on the Raptors.

Their length on the perimeter aids them when "digging", AKA having a help defender get a hand on the ball or strip the ball loose. Chicago will need to make sure they hunt for some smart 3-point shots early as this will open up driving lanes for DeMar DeRozan, Zach LaVine and Co.

Limit Scottie Barnes paint touches

Rookie of the Year candidate Scottie Barnes has had an excellent season in which he has showcased an impressive all-around game. Despite being a rookie, Barnes has become a major playmaking hub for the Toronto offense.

Barnes 3.4 assists per game don't lead the Raptors but they are important nonetheless. His passing ability provides easy looks for Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet.

Scottie does a decent amount of damage from the low post and in the short roll, so the Bulls defense will benefit greatly from keeping Barnes, a 31% 3-point shooter, out of the paint.

Play through contact

The Bulls have struggled to get to the free throw line in recent weeks and we have seen a scenario pop up a few times a game where a player gets contact on the way to the rim and then complains to the referee before getting back on defense.

This isn't a habit the Bulls are usually offenders of, but against Toronto even the briefest of lapses can sink you.

Chicago will need to keep playing and resist the urge to get the refs to hear them out after possible 50-50 calls. All three of the Bulls leading scorers have had big nights, with Nikola Vucevic going for 30 points (on zero free throws) in the last matchup between these two teams.

Monday night's game figures to be physical, so hopefully the Bulls come prepared.