It may be time for Toronto fans to break out their programs ahead of the April 8th Bulls at Raptors betting preview. If it wasn’t hard enough for Nick Nurse to find bodies due to a rash of injuries, now DeAndre’ Bembry and Fred VanVleet are suspended for Thursday’s game for their role in an altercation vs. the Lakers on Tuesday.
It’s looking like a great spot for the Bulls, who are still just a -4 point favorite despite Toronto being so depleted. Chicago has also won back-to-back games, but oddsmakers still don’t trust a team that had dropped six straight prior to that. Even so, Toronto is on just an 8-man rotation for this matchup.
Bulls Need to Feed Vucevic
Things didn’t start off too well for the Bulls after the trade deadline, going 0-4 after welcoming Nikola Vucevic over from Orlando. It looks like the growing pains between the two may be subsiding, as Vucevic was spectacular in Tuesday’s win over Indiana, scoring 32 points, grabbing 16 rebounds, and dishing out 5 assists.
Vucevic also had 22 points and 13 rebounds in a win over the Nets on Sunday, but where the Toronto is really shorthanded in the April 8th Bulls at Raptors matchup is the backcourt. Chicago isn’t incredibly healthy at the guard position either though, with Coby White (back) and Zach LaVine (ankle) both missing time lately. Even while not 100%, that duo still combined for 32 points in the win over Indiana.
It’s also not like LaVine is playing on one leg, he had 25 to lead the win over the Nets. Six Chicago players scored in double figures in that win – while Toronto barely has six players total on Thursday.
Can Skeleton Crew Raptors Keep This One Close
Toronto will use an 8-man rotation on Thursday night, and that top tier still has some potential. Pascal Siakam has scored 22+ in three straight games and Gary Trent, Jr. has a 31 and 24 point outing over the last four and OG Anunoby has a couple 20+ point games over that span.
What is really going to hurt Toronto in this matchup is their lack of ball handlers. Kyle Lowry was already out until mid-April with a foot injury, and Fred VanVleet has missed the last two with a hip flexor. Rodney Hood is also out (hip) and now the suspension of Bembry leaves Toronto really with just rookie Malachi Flynn to run the offense.
Flynn has played well with VanVleet out recently, with double figures, 4+ assists, and 5+ rebounds in three straight. Chicago is also just mid-tier in their backcourt defense, and has the 5th fewest steals/game in the NBA. That being said, it’s just hard to win that shorthanded, especially with the Raptors in a three-games-in-four-nights situation.
Free Bulls at Raptors Pick
It would be a great contrarian play and somehow the public isn’t too lopsided, but it’s just incredibly hard to like Toronto here. The Bulls are actually worse at home than on the road, and played 12 guys in their last game. Billy Donovan is a smart enough coach to know he can gas this Raptors team in the 2nd half.
Bulls 124 – Raptors 105
Free Pick: Bulls -4