Sixers look to continue hot streak against the Bulls

Sixers C Joel Embiid
PHILADELPHIA, PA – MAY 05: Philadelphia 76ers Center Joel Embiid (21) looks toward the net during warmups before the Eastern Conference Semifinal Game between the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers on May 05, 2018 at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire)

Even with all the turmoil leading into the season, the Sixers have started with a 5-2 record and shown impressive flashes over the first few games. On the heels of back-to-back impressive wins over the Atlanta Hawks and Portland Trail Blazers, the Sixers will now face the Chicago Bulls who lead the Eastern Conference with a 6-1 record. Joel Embiid missed the previous game against the Trail Blazers in order to rest his knee but will be back in action for this matchup for the final game of the Sixers four-game homestand.

Who are the Chicago Bulls?

The Chicago Bulls have not had a winning record since the 2015-16 season, but the franchise has certainly begun a new chapter heading into this season. The additions of Lonzo Ball, DeMar DeRozan, Alex Caruso, and Tony Bradley to surround their superstar Zach LaVine has shown great success early on as the Bulls hope to make the leap to true title contenders.

The Bulls are led in scoring by Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan who each average 25.6 points per game. They are also anchored in the paint by Nikola Vucevic who is averaging 15.1 points and 10.9 rebounds. Sitting second in the East, they also have multiple impressive rotational pieces including Derrick Jones Jr, Ayo Dosunmu, and Javonte Green. Chciago enters this game red-hot as they outscored the Celtics 37-9 in the fourth quarter of their previous game to mount a ridiculous fourth-quarter comeback.

Status of Tobias Harris:

Shortly before the tipoff of the matchup with the Trail Blazers, Tobias Harris was ruled out due to health and safety protocols. Doc Rivers said he was made aware of the late scratch about 40 minutes before tip-off and that he had already been through a portion of his pregame warmup routine. At the moment there are very few details available surrounding the situation but it seems extremely unlikely Harris will be able to suit up for the Chicago matchup.

The NBA’s health and safety protocols require frequent testing for unvaccinated players while those who are vaccinated only are tested if there is known exposure or symptoms reported. One would have to assume there was a positive test that triggered to scratch, but more details should be available soon. Any player who tests positive is required to miss 10 days unless back-to-back negative tests are produced. Hopefully, more info is available surrounding Tobias Harris soon, but this could result in him missing up to the next six games for the Sixers.

Can Bench Continue Production?

As far as the guys that will suit up, the Sixers will likely look to their bench for the continued production that has been seen early on in the season. Georges Niang is coming off his best game as a member of the Sixers as he tallied 21 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists. The Minivan has been a breath of fresh air to the Sixers bench and proved incredibly valuable early on.

There also have been impressive performances from Matisse Thybulle, Furkan Korkmaz, and Shake Milton in recent games which have helped the Sixers a great deal. Andre Drummond has immediately proved to be the best backup center that has been paired with Joel Embiid and successfully stepped into the starting role in the previous game. The increased depth has proved effective early on for the Sixers, and this production will continue to be leaned on throughout the season. If the second unit can outplay the Bulls, it will decrease the pressure on the starters and vastly increase the chances of the Sixers securing a win.

The matchup with the Bulls will tip-off at 7:00 with each team coming in on a winning streak. The Sixers have begun to build their case for a quiet contender even with the off-court drama this season. This game is another chance to make their statement why they have been underrated this season and a victory over the Bulls would certainly put an exclamation point on the homestand.

Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire