Toronto Raptors: Three takeaways from walkover victory vs Chicago Bulls

Toronto Raptors - Fred VanVleet (Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images)
Toronto Raptors - Fred VanVleet (Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The Toronto Raptors blew out the Chicago Bulls in a shorthanded victory. What did we learn from the game on Saturday night?

The Toronto Raptors traveled to Chicago with a depleted squad to take on the Chicago Bulls on Saturday night. With Kawhi Leonard and OG Anunoby both missing from the game, Nick Nurse took the opportunity to get some minutes out of a Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol frontcourt, with Pascal Siakam looking to earn some much-needed rest.

Field goals weren’t on the menu for the Raptors in the first quarter, as Kyle Lowry and Co. shot just 33-percent from the field in the first quarter, including some poor shooting from three-point range.

Things turned around for the Raptors in the second quarter, and led by the bench, they asserted their dominance and strolled halftime with an eleven point lead. Granted, the Bulls bench had outscored the Raptors bench by 12 points up until this point, but the signs were good. Toronto was getting the ball out in transition and scoring on the break.

Much like the last game against the Bulls, the Raptors were in no doubt in the second half, outscoring Chicago 57-45 after the break. The starters were given a sufficient amount of rest in the game, with Fred VanVleet the only player spending more than 30 minutes on the court.

Hopefully, this will be a sign of things to come for the Raptors before the end of the season. Wrapping their key players up in metaphorical bubble wrap should be the way forward. Limiting their minutes and allowing players like Jordan Loyd, Malcolm Miller, and Chris Boucher to gain some vital minutes on the court to grow.

Here are my three big takeaways from last night’s game.

1. Freddy is more than just steady as a starter

Fred VanVleet has started in a career-high 27 times this season and has averaged 13.9 points and 5.8 assists while averaging 38-percent from three on over five attempts per game. VanVleet has stepped up in a variety of situations, whether it’s as the lead guard when Kyle Lowry is out injured or just filling in as a shooting guard and allowing Danny Green to play at the three, VanVleet has been vital.

Last night was no different as VanVleet lead the Raptors scoring with 23 points on efficient 9-15 shooting, adding six assists. Steady? Yes. But so much more than that.

2. Who impressed more, Norman Powell or Jeremy Lin?

Two guys on the brink of the playoff rotations, it’s more than likely that there won’t be room for two of them. Both Jeremy Lin and Norman Powell had a big opportunity to make an impact against the Bulls and push for a spot in the rotations. Who made more of an impact?

Luckily for the Raptors, both men made a big impact in the game, combining for 27 points and 5-8 from three-point range. It’s highly unlikely that both players will make the rotation, and it’s probable that whoever makes it won’t have much of a role. But still, it’s nice to see both players having a big game. Especially Lin, who struggled this season.

3. Pascal Siakam gets the night off, thankfully

One of the more interesting stories heading into the game was the starting pairing of Ibaka and Gasol, and where that would leave Pascal Siakam. He was active for the game just as a precaution, but luckily for the Raptors, the insurance policy was never necessary.

The Raptors were in total control of the game throughout and the result was pretty much said and done by the end of the third quarter. Siakam didn’t need to step foot on the court, but will likely return against the Orlando Magic on Monday night. Absolutely fine, but a night off is more than the Most Improved Player deserves.

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