Holly MacKenzie – Raptors.com
Chicago Bulls (0-0) @ Toronto Raptors (0-0)
When: Oct. 19, 7:30 P.M. ET
Where: Air Canada Centre
Broadcast info: TSN, SN590 The FAN
Preseason finale: Though this will be the regular season opener for the Raptors, these two teams faced off in Toronto’s final preseason game where the Raptors collected a 125-104 victory. The win came thanks to a 38-point fourth quarter explosion and a big night from C.J. Miles who led all scorers with 27 points in 20 minutes. Rookie OG Anunoby scored 12 points off the bench as Toronto had six players in double figures.
2016-17 flashback: The last regular-season meeting between these teams was a Raptors122-120 overtime victory that snapped an 11-game losing streak against the Bulls. DeMar DeRozan scored 42 points to lead Toronto, while Serge Ibaka and Robin Lopez were ejected for an altercation in the third quarter.
Leading into tonight:
Bulls shorthanded: The Bulls will be without the services of Nikola Mirotic and Bobby Portis following an altercation during practice in Chicago. Portis has been suspended by the team for eight games and Mirotic is expected to miss 4-6 weeks as he recovers from facial fractures and a concussion. Rookie Lauri Markkanen is expected to start at the four spot for Chicago on Thursday.
Lucky 23: The Raptors will kick off their 23rd season in the NBA with the home opener against the Bulls at the Air Canada Centre. This will be the first of two home games before the team heads out on a six-game West Coast road trip. The Oct. 19 start marks the earliest season start in club history and will be the 17th time the Raptors have opened the regular season on their home floor.
Happy to be home: After a successful preseason where Toronto posted a 3-2 record, everyone is ready to get the real show underway. The Raptors racked up their frequent flier miles in the preseason, playing just one game at home. Following training camp in Victoria, B.C., the team played a pair of games against the Los Angeles Clippers in Hawaii, then faced the Blazers in Portland before finishing up on the East Coast with their lone game at the Air Canada Centre and then the finale in Chicago.
First game flashback: DeMar DeRozan scored 40 points in the 2016-17 season-opener as he started the season on a tear, setting franchise records left and right. After a dedicated offseason spent working on his range, look for DeRozan to sprinkle in a few more three-point attempts this season.
Pro-Line Winning Matchup: Toronto averaged 43 three-point attempts per contest in five preseason games. This was second to only Houston in attempts as the Rockets launched 49 attempts from beyond the arc per game. Toronto connected on just 32.6 percent of its attempts from deep and are hoping to see the number of made threes go up in the regular season. Despite some missed connections from downtown, scoring wasn’t a problem in the preseason; Toronto was fourth in the league in scoring, averaging 109.4 points per game on 46.3 percent shooting overall. Expect the Raptors to push the pace playing against an undermanned Bulls team on Thursday.