Title:Raptors not overreacting to lack of ‘sunshine and roses’ after ugly win against Bulls
Date: December 30, 2018
Original Source: The Athletic
Synopsis: In my latest for The Athletic Toronto, I wrote about the Raptors’ ongoing offensive struggles after they narrowly escaped a near-upset from the Bulls.
The Toronto Raptors are mired in an offensive slump.
This is not particularly debatable. On Friday, they matched the worst 2-point shooting night in franchise history and were run off the floor by a sub-.500 Orlando Magic team. The two performances prior — a shorthanded beat-down from a very good Philadelphia 76ers team on the second night of a back-to-back and an ugly if spirited post-Christmas comeback win against the Miami Heat — were understandable, albeit moderately concerning. Do not consider Sunday’s 95-89 victory against the Chicago Bulls a return to form.
The Bulls are no longer the laughing stock they were earlier in the season, when they were down several key bodies and the Raptors summarily punked them in Chicago with two-thirds of a roster. Since replacing Fred Hoiberg with Jim Boylen, the dead-coach bounce has been real, with Chicago’s defence ranking in the top 10 in the league in that time. Getting Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen back from injury has made the offence at least a little more threatening. Wendell Carter Jr. is growing rapidly.
Still, the Bulls also offered an opportunity for the Raptors to get right. Even down Kyle Lowry and Jonas Valanciunas, they were significant favorites. Maybe it wasn’t a game the Raptors could have expected to cruise in, but were there a night on the schedule to work some kinks out, Chicago was it. Things are about to get much tougher again for a week or two, with games ahead against Utah (a top-three team at limiting shots at the rim and a top-five defence overall), San Antonio (on fire the last month, surely with a charged-up DeMar DeRozan), Milwaukee (who have had the Raptors’ number twice already) and Indiana (the league’s best defence).