Raptors vs. Bulls Free Pick 02/14/17 – Larry Ness NBA Predictions
By Larry Ness
The Raptors have been struggling but isn’t wasn’t too long ago that the team seemed capable of challenging the Cavs for the East’s No. 1 seed. However, the Raptors limp into Chicago losers of 10 of their last 14 games. They have currently fallen four games back of the Celtics in the Atlantic Division and overall in the East, are tied with the Hawks at 32-23, for the conference’s fourth-best record (Toronto would lose the tie-breaker right now, meaning the Raptors would be the East’s no. 5 seed!).
The Bulls own their fare share of woes too, dealing with significant nagging injuries to their two-best players in Butler (24.5-6.4-4.9) and Wade (19.1), along with also having role players Nikola Mirotic (9.0 & 5.1) and Paul Zipser (4.1 & 2.3) listed as day-to-day as well. Butler has sat out four of the last five games with heel and head contusion issues, with head coach Fred Hoiberg telling reporters after Sunday’s loss that he isn’t certain if shutting Butler down for games this week against the Raptors and Boston Celtics is the solution. As for Wade (wrist), he’s missed two of the last three games.
The good news is that Chicago actually owns 10 straight wins over Toronto but are the Bulls in any shape to take on this high-scoring team (Raptors average 109.1 PPG to rank 5th) right now? The Bulls dropped the final three games of their recently completed six-game road trip by margins of 31, 18 and 28 points!
The Toronto backcourt of DeRozan (27.9) and Lowry (22.8-4.7-7.0) is an All Star duo but other than center Valanciunas (12.4 & 9.9), steady contributions by the remaining roster have been few and far between.
The Raptors watched (helplessly?) as they squandered a 16-point fourth quarter lead in a 1012-101 home loss Sunday to the Pistons but a strong bounce-back against the injury-riddled Bulls is in the cards. Lay it with the road favorite.