Game Day: Raptors vs. Bulls

NBA.com Preview | Game Notes

Probable Starters

TOR – Jose Calderon (G), DeMar DeRozan (G), James Johnson (F), Andrea Bargnani (F), Aaron Gray (C).
CHI –
C.J. Watson (G), Ronnie Brewer (G), Luol Deng (F), Carlos Boozer (F), Luol Deng (C)

Key Injuries

TORJerryd Bayless – (right hip pointer) – qusetionable
CHI
Richard Hamilton (right shoulder) – out, Luol Deng (left wrist) – day-to-day, Derrick Rose (right groin) – day-to-day, C.J. Watson (left ankle) – day-to-day

It’s a big night with the Eastern Conference leaders from Chicago in town, but the Raptors will also be a part of an NBA first tonight with their inaugural Canadian Forces Night — honouring the men and women who serve our country as military personnel.

With 300 members of the Canadian Forces expected to be in attendance, look for several moments of recognition before and throughout the game, including the national anthems from Scott Newlands, a special game ball delivery prior to tip-off and what I’m told should be a one-of-a-kind Raptors introduction.

Of course, the most noticeable reminder of the night’s theme will be seen on the players with their alternate camouflage-style uniforms (with one modeled by Jose Calderon at right). The jerseys along with Canadian-forces inspired tees and caps will be available at Real Sports Apparel, with 20% of all sales going to the Canadian Military Families Fund.

For more on the importance of this night, watch MLSE Executive Vice-President and Chief Operating Officer Tom Anselmi in the video at the top of this entry.

Time To Regroup: There’s going to be a lot going on in the building tonight, but the Raptors are going to need to regain some focus after some troubling signs contributed to a rough finish to their 2-3 road trip.

In Charlotte it was parade to the free throw line by the Bobcats that proved costly. Last night in New York saw the Knicks bully them on the offensive glass. Turnovers continue to be a problem with an average of 21 in each of their last three games, well above their season average of 15.4 giveaways per contest (already 23rd in the league). Take a larger step back and the Raptors have allowed at least 105 points in five of the their last seven games. During that stretch, their defensive rating has slipped to 27th overall (down from 15th overall for the season).

Missing Guards: The Bulls could be without Derrick Rose for a fifth straight game tonight due to a groin injury, but it’s done little to slow them down. They’ve used some solid defence to pile up three wins in four games without Rose and in 14 games the reigning MVP has sat out this season, they’ve won 10 games.

For the Raptors, keep an eye on the status of Jerryd Bayless, who suffered a left hip pointer injury after a collision with Amar’e Stoudemire in the second half last night. Bayless left the game and attempted to give it a go again in the fourth quarter before Casey shut him down for the night when the game got out of hand.

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