Toronto (24-11) at Chicago (18-18)
When: Saturday, January 7th 2017
Where: United Center, Chicago, IL
Time: 8:05 ET | TV: Sportsnet, WGN
The Chicago Bulls will look to make it back-to-back wins over the two best teams in the Eastern Conference when they host the Toronto Raptors on Saturday night. Chicago followed up a 118-111 home win over Charlotte with a 106-94 win at Cleveland on Wednesday. Jimmy Butler put the team on his back with 52 points in Chicago’s win over Charlotte on Monday and came alive for 14 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter in Wednesday’s victory. Chicago is looking for more from its supporting cast and was pleased with the efforts of Doug McDermott and Nikola Mirotic off the bench in Wednesday’s win. The two combined for 33 points on 12-of-21 shooting and each hit three 3-pointers to help keep the team in the game until Butler went off in the fourth. Point guard Rajon Rondo did not play in any of the last three games and is currently out of coach Fred Hoiberg’s rotation. Chicago will finish up with their three-game homestand with another tough contest against Oklahoma City on Monday.
Toronto ended a six-game road trip with a 110-82 loss at San Antonio on Tuesday, but came home with a spirited effort in a 101-93 win over Utah on Thursday. Guards Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan combined for 56 points in the win over Utah on Thursday. Lowry had his worst game of the season in the finale of the road trip with six points on 2-of-9 shooting in the loss at San Antonio but rebounded on Thursday with 33 points. Lowry has scored 30 or more points in two of the last three games and grabbed three steals in the decisive fourth quarter on Thursday. Power forward Patrick Patterson (knee) sat out the last three games and is questionable for Saturday. Patterson contributes 7.3 points and 5.6 rebounds per contest for the first place Raptors, who are three games clear of Boston in the Atlantic Division. Thanks to Lowry and DeRozan, Toronto ranks in the top six in points (110.0), field goal percentage (46.7), 3-point percentage (38.9), and free throw percentage (80.8). Toronto returns home for four straight starting on Sunday against high-scoring Houston.
Chicago won all four meetings last season and have taken the last nine overall against Toronto. The Bulls have a lot of confidence right now and I can see them winning this game.
Pick: Bulls +2.5