Sixers travel to Chicago to avenge Monday’s loss

Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21) shoots against Cleveland Cavaliers forward Evan Mobley during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, March 15, 2023, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)

The Philadelphia 76ers are in Chicago tonight to take on the Bulls in a rematch of Monday night’s 109-105 double-overtime loss. The Bulls came through at the end after Joel Embiid had fouled out, and James Harden had one of his worst shooting games in recent memory. DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine both pulled the weight for the Bulls in the surprising upset over the Sixers.

Sixers vs. Bulls game info

Who: Philadelphia 76ers (48-23) at Chicago Bulls (34-37)

When: 8:00 pm EST

Where: United Center, Chicago, Ill.

Watch: NBC Sports Philadelphia

Eye on the Sixers

All-Star center Joel Embiid had what’s become his usual game with 37 points and 16 rebounds on Monday night before fouling out at the start of the second overtime. Embiid admitted that the final foul was a foul but was in disagreement with an early-game charging call. For the Sixers; they could have used him in the final moments of the second overtime, which saw the Bulls pull out the victory.

More importantly, guard James Harden had what may be his worst shooting game in recent memory. Harden had only 5 points against the Bulls, shooting just 2-14 from the floor, including 0-6 on his three-point attempts. Harden did contribute seven rebounds and 12 assists during the game, but the poor shooting and five turnovers are what ultimately doomed the team. Harden appeared to injure his foot during the game, and head coach Doc Rivers said that Harden was dealing with some foot soreness after the game.

Harden didn’t play in the Sixers’ previous game against the Indiana Pacers as he was out with “injury management,” and on Monday, he played 47 minutes. While he’s been given credit during the Sixers’ recent run, Rivers has, throughout the season, overworked his players. Harden has battled injuries to his feet and legs for the past few years and missed a month earlier in the season with a foot injury. Knowing that he’s been bothered, recently, with the foot, there’s no reason that Rivers should have had him on the floor for as long as he was on Monday night.

Harden is listed as questionable for tonight’s rematch against the Bulls, and he should be downgraded to “out” for at least the next few games. The Sixers’ 33-year-old star point guard absolutely needs a rest. He’s playing more minutes per game than he has since he was 25 and has battled injuries this season. The Sixers, on Tuesday, clinched a playoff berth with the Nets’ 115-109 loss to the Cavaliers, so there’s no reason to push Harden any further. He’s needed for the playoffs, not the final games of the regular season.

Eye on the Bulls

The Bulls are returning home on the back end of their home-and-home series, with the Sixers having come out on top Monday night, 109-15, in double overtime.

DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine had quite a game on Monday night, leading the Bulls to their third straight victory as they try to climb the standings in the Eastern Conference. DeRozan finished the game with 25 points, eight rebounds, and two assists, while LaVine finished with 26 points, two rebounds, and seven assists. The two form quite a formidable duo on the court and provide problems for opposing defenses.

Center Nikola Vucevic had himself quite a game against the Sixers. Finishing with 21 points and 12 rebounds, the 6’10” 260 lb. center is one of the few people in the league that can physically maintain in a game against the Sixers Joel Embiid.

The trio of DeRozan, LaVine, and Vucevic is enough to give teams fits, and they’ll try to continue that play on Monday night. Add in Pat Williams, Pat Beverley, Coby White, and Derrick Jones Jr., with Andre Drummond coming off the bench to give Vucevic rest, and the Bulls have the players to keep up with the Sixers.

What to look for

The Bulls will be looking to extend their winning streak to four games and are coming in with confidence, knowing that they took down the Sixers on Monday night. The Sixers, though, will be looking for a little revenge. They were in the midst of an eight-game winning streak and will look to start another in Chicago.

Center Joel Embiid will not be happy with how the game ended on Monday, as he was forced to watch from the bench after fouling out. As guard James Harden isn’t expected to play, this game will come down to Embiid and a supporting cast that needs to step up.

Georges Niang, Shake Milton, Paul Reed, and Daniel House Jr. combined for 8 points on Monday night, and that can’t happen tonight or any night going forward. The bench has to step up and be more consistent throughout the remainder of the season as well as the postseason.

Look for Tyrese Maxey and De’Anthony Melton to get extended minutes, with House Jr. also seeing some extra time, trying to slow down the Bulls’ attack. The Sixers will have to be playing perfectly throughout the game to get out of Chicago with a victory.

Prediction: Sixers 121 – Bulls 113