The Chicago Bulls hope to gain on a team that is ahead of them in the playoff race when they visit the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday night.
The Bulls were 11th in the Eastern Conference, 1 1/2 games behind the ninth-place Raptors, after a 102-82 home victory over the Washington Wizards on Sunday.
The Raptors had their season best four-game winning streak end Sunday with a 118-93 road loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Despite the setback, the Raptors have won seven of their past nine games.
The Bulls and Raptors have split two meetings this season with the home team prevailing.
Former Raptors stalwart DeMar DeRozan led the Bulls to their second consecutive victory with 29 points against the Wizards on Sunday.
Chicago earned the victory with some scrappy play.
“I still think we can be better offensively,” Bulls coach Billy Donovan said. “We have to find ugly ways to win games because (Sunday) we didn’t shoot it well. When we’re not great offensively, we have to find other ways to win.”
The Bulls scored 25 points off 16 Wizards turnovers and held them to 15 points in the fourth quarter.
“Doing the right thing, making each game count, playing the right way and playing for each other,” said Zach LaVine, who scored 27 points Sunday. “We’re just doing everything the right way. We play defense like that every game, I think we’ll be all right. Just effort and energy. Holding people accountable and going out there with the same mentality, and even if you make a mistake, move on to the next play and do it better.”
After the loss on Sunday, the 10th-place Wizards were just one-half game ahead of the Bulls.
Patrick Beverley, who played his second game for Chicago after being signed as a free agent, did not score while recording five rebounds and one blocked shot, but he already has had a positive influence on the Bulls.
“He’s great, just the communication part between he and I,” Donovan said. “We’re always talking about, ‘OK, what do we want to flow into here? What do we want to run?’ He’s got a real good handle on that. He’s got a really good voice where he can command the ball and say, ‘Let’s get to these spots, let’s execute what we’re doing right now.'”
The Raptors are also in a key stretch of their schedule, playing teams that are close to them in the standings. After the game against Chicago, they play two consecutive road games against the Wizards on Thursday and Saturday.
The game against the Cavaliers, however, provided a reality check for the Raptors.
“We have been doing a much better job of everything defensively and we were just a step slow (Sunday) on everything,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said. “They got us back on our heels on everything: transition, guarding the ball screen and rolling (to the rim). It was a big difference I think just in energy and intensity.”
The Raptors were playing without Fred VanVleet, who missed his third straight game after the birth of his third child.
Pascal Siakam led the Raptors with 25 points on Sunday. Jakob Poeltl had 13 points and nine rebounds and Scottie Barnes had 12 points.
“We’re going to need to probably score to get our defense set up,” Nurse said. “But there was just not enough offensive makes. We got it to the rim a bunch, we had some great looks at 3, we just didn’t capitalize.”
–Field Level Media