The Sixers return home to Philadelphia looking to extend their eight-game winning streak against the Chicago Bulls who’ve won their last two games.
Bulls vs Sixers Game info
Who: Chicago Bulls (33-37) at Philadelphia 76ers (48-22)
When: 7:00 pm EST
Where: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, Pa.
Watch: NBC Sports Philadelphia
Bulls vs Sixers betting info
Spread: Bulls +8.5 | Sixers -8.5
Moneyline: Bulls +290 | Sixers -360
Total: Over/Under 226.5
Eye on the Sixers
Joel Embiid has moved to the top of the Kia MVP Ladder with his play recently. Embiid been doing it all of late averaging 36.1 points, 8.8 rebounds, 4.6 assists, and 2.3 blocks per game over his last ten games. As the Sixers embarked on the toughest schedule in the NBA to finish off the season, many had wondered how they would react and where they’d wind up finishing in the Eastern Conference.
The Sixers have gone 10-3 since the All-Star break and have been riding the play of Embiid, guard James Harden, and guard Tyrese Maxey since then.
For his part, Harden has been averaging 22.3 points, 7.1 rebounds and 11.5 assists over the last ten games. Over that period, the Sixers are 9-1 and have moved up to 2nd place in the Eastern Conference standings having played 2 less games than the Boston Celtics yet holding the lead because of a better win percentage.
Since his move back into the starting lineup, guard Tyrese Maxey has been playing like the player everyone saw upon Harden’s arrival last season. He’s averaging 22.1 points, 2.6 rebounds, and 3.1 assists. What has really been working for Maxey is his shooting. Last season, Maxey was third in the league in three-point shooting and dropped way down this year after returning from injury and being relegated to 6th man duties. Over his last ten games, Maxey is shooting 57.2% from the floor and 54.7% on his three-point attempts. He’s back to 42% on the year from long range which is good enough for 12th in the league.
The Sixers have been playing very well over their last 10 games and have seen quality minutes from Georges Niang, Shake Milton, Paul Reed, DeAnthony Melton, and Tobias Harris. With the bench having stepped up, the rotation being managed better by head coach Doc Rivers, and their shooting improving, the Sixers have looked every bit of the title contender they’d hoped when the season started.
Eye on the Bulls
The Bulls are coming into Philly having won their past two games against the Timberwolves and the Heat over the weekend.
The Bulls are led by DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine. The two are having almost identical seasons this year. DeRozan is averaging 25.4 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 5.1 assists per game while LaVine is averaging 25.0 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 4.1 assists. As a top duo goes in the league, they’re giving all they can for the 10th place Bulls, hoping to get them in the position for the playoffs.
The Bulls finished in 6th place in the Eastern Conference last season and were hoping to build off that going forward, it’s just not worked out that way for them. The Eastern Conference has become a very good conference with five teams currently at or approaching 50 wins and another five teams that could be above 40 wins on the season. This just hasn’t worked out as well for the Bulls.
They’ve lost guard Lonzo Ball for the season and probably next year as well. Guard Alex Caruso has missed time and is questionable for tonights game after spraining his left foot against the Heat on Friday night.
The Bulls do have center Nikola Vucevic to try to slow down Joel Embiid. For the season, the 6’10” 260 lb. center is averaging 17.7 points and 11.3 rebounds and can put a big body against Embiid in the low post and combined with Andre Drummond off the bench, the Bulls can match up well, defensively against the Sixers front court. While that hasn’t worked for really anyone this season, it may help the rest of the team as they look to contain the Sixers offense.
Patrick Williams, Coby White, and veteran Pat Beverley will be trying to slow down Harden, Maxey, Harris, and Melton, while dealing with Milton, Niang, and Reed off the bench. For this version of the Bulls, it probably won’t be enough.
What to look for tonight
Sixers center Joel Embiid hasn’t played in the fourth quarter of the past two games. Normally, that would be something of a concern as Embiid has had injuries throughout his career. What’s happened lately is that the team has been controlling games and they haven’t needed Embiid on the floor. As they get closer to the post-season, head coach Doc Rivers is using this time to get players like Paul Reed, Georges Niang, Shake Milton, and Jalen McDaniels some valuable time on the floor, so they’re prepared for the playoffs.
This Sixers team is operating like a well-oiled machine and it doesn’t seem like the Bulls will have enough to slow them down.
Prediction: Sixers 127 – Bulls 121
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AP Photo/Ron Schwane