The Philadelphia 76ers matched up against the Chicago Bulls in a Monday night showdown. Joel Embiid and the Sixers came into this matchup winners of six straight and eight out of their last ten games. Meanwhile, DeMar DeRozan and the Bulls came in tonight, losing three out of their last four games.
The Bulls haven’t had the best start to the season, which has led to trade rumors including their entire roster, but most notably Zach Lavine. The Sixers were connected to Lavine earlier in the season, but those rumors have cooled down considerably.
Sixers/Bulls game recap
The Sixers started this game off by asserting their defensive will against the Chicago Bulls. They were getting steals and deflections left and right, coupled with Embiid scoring, and they built an early double-digit lead. Once the offense stopped humming and Bulls guard Coby White got it going, the Sixers relinquished their first-quarter lead. White scored 13 points in the first quarter to bring Chicago back and take a one-point lead into the second quarter.
The second half was more of the same for the Sixers on offense, with little movement and clunky play. Not only weren’t shots falling, but the 76ers couldn’t get to the line either. The referees’ whistles were silent when there were clear times they should have fouls on the Bulls. With clunky offense, the Sixers went into the half with only 44 points and down eleven.
Philadelphia came out in the third quarter with more intensity on defense, which helped to slow down the Bulls’ offense early. The offense was still a whole lot of Embiid and not a lot of action or movement. When the other Sixers did have opportunities, a lot of shots didn’t go through the net. The 76ers fought back early on to take a quick two-point lead but Chicago came storming back to increase their lead back to double digits.
The fourth quarter started with Joel Embiid on the bench, the only Sixers that was consistent on offense all night. Maxey and the bench turned up the intensity on defense to help the Sixers claw back into the game and give themselves a chance. Maxey woke up offensively to help out Embiid, but the rest of the team continued to be ice-cold.
Philly had their chances, taking another brief two-point lead before the Bulls took control for good. A late sequence late in the fourth, where Maxey found Embiid for a short bunny, and he missed it. That shot would have tied the game, and Chicago got the victory 108-104. The Bulls were paced by Coby White (24 points, nine assists, and eight rebounds) and Nikola Vucevic (23 points). The Sixers were led by Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey (29 points and eight assists).
The Sixers weren’t their best selves on defense tonight, and the Bulls made them pay. Bad stretches of defense plus putrid shooting helped put them in an early hole. At times, their defense was really good and helped them claw back, but it wasn’t good enough all night. During the postgame press conference, head coach Nick Nurse mentioned the team’s effort on the defensive end:
“We were just a half step behind some stuff. thought they beat us to some basketballs..rebounds. Some defensive stuff was good at times but wasn’t good during others.”
If their offense isn’t humming, they are going to need to play better defense and hold one of the lower-scoring teams in the league in check.
Joel Embiid continued his recent dominance, scoring 40 points, grabbing 14 boards, and dishing out 6 assists, but it wasn’t enough to get the win. He was questionable with hamstring tightness, but it didn’t show early on.
Embiid didn’t have much help and was in foul trouble in the fourth quarter. He missed a floater late to tie the game, receiving a nice pocket pass from Tyrese Maxey. The NBA’s reigning MVP seems to have his second straight trophy in sight, and if he keeps playing like tonight, it will be hard to deny him.
Do the Sixers need a third star?
It seemed to be all Joel through the first three quarters before Maxey got it going in the fourth. With his teammates not able to help offensively, they were caught in a rut on offense. Many have discussed what Philly will do with the assets they acquired from the Harden trade. Will they go get a third star or will they look for rotational pieces to sure up some weaknesses?
Tonight was a night to show that they could use a third consistent offensive weapon to help when Embiid or Maxey don’t have it going. We will have to wait until February to see what they do, but there is evidence from tonight that shows they may need another scorer.