With the Toronto Raptors losing 109-107 last night to the Chicago Bulls at the Air Canada Centre, that makes nine straight Toronto losses to the Bulls. The last time the Raptors won was December 31, 2013 at the United Centre in Chicago by a score of 85-79. On paper, the Raptors are the clear cut favourites, but why can’t they beat the Bulls?
Going back quite a few years, the scripts were actually flipped. Between the 1998 season and the 2002 season, the Raptors beat the Bulls 16 times in a row. The secret? Playing a tough style of defence that ripped rebounds down like it was no one’s business. Having Vince Carter at his prime also definitely contributed to their success.
But that was then. These days, what’s actually going right for the Bulls? More importantly what’s going wrong for the Raptors? Over their last nine meetings, the Raptors have lost by less than ten points seven times — losing by just two points on three different occasions.
Clearly, staying competitive is not the issue, but as of late, losing the lead late in the game has been troubling. It’s not the only time that we’ve seen this trend with the Raptors. In the 2013-2014 season, they won their division but then lost in seven games to a very experienced Brooklyn Nets team in the first round of the playoffs. Last season, they finished first again but then lost four straight games to the Washington Wizards in the first round.
Those performances have left some wondering if the Raptors can make up for their lack of experience.
“The Raptors could still be in their learning phases on how to be professional, how to hold down a lead, how to distribute their energy, and essentially how to win,” says Hindi Crawford of The Defeated Pod Podcast.
This may not bode well for the Raptors — there’s a great chance they could match up with the Bulls in the first round of this years playoffs.
“With confidence at an all time low for the Raptors against the Bulls, they need to change their tune fast, make some adjustments and they need to make them fast,” adds Crawford.