Raptors, Bulls face off in In-Season Tournament group play on TSN
Both squads enter the game with 0-2 records in tournament play and will be eliminated from knockout round contention with a loss. They are the only winless teams remaining in East Group C.
The Raptors (7-8) are coming off a thrilling 132-131 win over the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday night. Pascal Siakam had 36 points and 10 rebounds, while Barnes added 20 points and 10 boards along with the go-ahead dunk with 27 seconds left.
“Pascal was amazing,” Raptors coach Darko Rajakovic said following the win. “He was so aggressive. He scored points in the paint and was versatile, driving to the rim.”
The back-and-forth shootout featured five lead changes in the final 1:22 of regulation and saw Pacers forward Buddy Hield miss a potential game-winning three with 1.2 seconds left.
“We knew they were going to be a team that was going to try to run and score a lot,” Rajakovic said. “I thought in the first half we did a good job in transition. They only got five points in transition. We continued to preach to slow those guys down and make them a half-court team. We talked about not letting them shoot early in the shot clock.”
Siakam has found his All-NBA form over the past eight games following a slow start to the season. The 29-year-old is averaging 24.5 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 5.4 assists on 56 per cent shooting since a win over the Dallas Mavericks on Nov. 8.
Third-year phenom Barnes looks to continue his excellent season that has him neck-and-neck with Philadelphia 76ers guard Tyrese Maxey in contention for the NBA’s Most Improved Player Award. The 2021-22 Rookie of the Year is averaging career highs across the board with 19.7 points, 9.1 rebounds, 5.7 assists, and 1.9 three-pointers per game.
Friday’s meeting will be the second between the Raptors and Bulls this season after Chicago took the first matchup 104-103 in overtime on Oct. 28. DeRozan led the way for the Bulls with 33 points.
Chicago (5-11) has struggled this season, losing five of its past six games, including four in a row on the road. Bulls guard Zach Lavine will likely miss his second-straight game due to a foot injury