So far this season, the Chicago Bulls and Toronto Raptors have had very different results in the three games they have each played. The Bulls are undefeated since the tip off of their season, taking advantage of a very favorable schedule. Toronto, meanwhile, has had a bit of a roller coaster start to their season, as they search for some consistency as they get used to the player movement that came after the end of last season.
Both the Chicago Bulls and Toronto Raptors have experience representing the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals. This year, both teams have their sights set on achieving that goal again, but it may take another year or so to build the roster continuity necessary to get there. Either way, this Chicago Bulls vs. Toronto Raptors matchup promises to be an entertaining one between teams looking to prove themselves early in the year.
Chicago Bulls – Facing Tougher Competition
The start to the Chicago Bulls’ season could not have been better, as the team has won all three of its games to start the season. But it should be pointed out that those games have all come against some of the worst competition in the league right now. Two of Chicago’s wins have come against a Pistons team that is without number one overall pick Cade Cunningham, while the third came against a Pelicans team that is missing Zion Williamson.
Even against poor competition, though, the Bulls’ balanced scoring has been commendable to this point in the season. Chicago had six double-figure scorers against the Pistons in the game that moved them to 3-0 over the weekend. Four of those double-figure scorers came from the starting lineup, with another two coming off the bench. That type of balance will only benefit the Bulls as the season wears on.
Expected Line-Up: Lonzo Ball, Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan, Patrick Williams, Nikola Vucevic
with best odds
Toronto Raptors – Looking For Offensive Continuity
The start of the 2021-2022 season has had its share of ups and downs for the Toronto Raptors, who are 1-2 through their first three games of the campaign. Toronto has gone 0-2 at home to start the season, dropping home games to the Washington Wizards and Dallas Mavericks. Their lone win came on the road against the Boston Celtics, as the Raptors will look to earn their first victory in Canada on the season on Monday night.
If they are going to get that win, the Raptors will need a better performance on offense than they got in their first two home games. Toronto has failed to break 100 points in either of their home games so far, averaging just 89 points per game. Though we are working with a small sample size when discussing averages just a few games into an 82-game season, the Raptors know that they are going to need to be better at putting the ball in the basket if they are going to contend for a postseason berth.
Expected Line-Up: Fred VanVleet, Gary Trent Jr., OG Anunoby, Scottie Barnes, Previous Achiuwa
Expert Pick #1 – Raptors +2.5 @ -110
Even with the Raptors having issues scoring the ball at home through a week of the NBA season, the best bet for this game is the Raptors to cover the 2.5-point spread at -110 odds. Chicago’s resume to this point in the season is not as impressive as it seems thanks to the fact that they have run through some low-tier competition thus far. Against a better coached team with some more talent, the Bulls will not be able to breeze through this game like they have the rest.
Expert Pick #2 – Raptors to Win @ +120
In addition to taking the Raptors and the points, it is also a decent bet to take the Raptors to win this game outright at +120 odds. The spread in this game is tight, even with the Bulls looking better than the Raptors statistically across the board this season. That speaks to the crossroads this game has put bookmakers in, as they expect a close affair but know the public will back the Bulls en masse if they made the game closer to a pick ‘em. For that reason, there is some underdog value here.
Expert Pick #3 – Fred VanVleet Over 17.5 Points @ -120
Fred VanVleet is currently the engine behind this Raptors team, especially without Pascal Siakam in action right now. In a game that the Raptors need to have to avoid starting the year 0-3 at home, expect VanVleet to show up in a big way, especially against a Bulls team whose main defenders are not going to be guarding him.
This isn’t going to be an easy game for either team, and the home underdog appears to be the best play against a team facing a step up in competition and some international travel to get to the game. Toronto may not hit its stride for the season until Siakam is back for them, but they will pick up a win against a Bulls team that still hasn’t fully come together as a unit.