Sixers vs Bulls: How to watch, betting preview & predictions

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Sixers
Philadelphia 76ers guard Tyrese Maxey (0) shoots as Miami Heat forward Kevin Love, guard Tyler Herro (14) and forward Caleb Martin (16) defend during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, Dec. 25, 2023, in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Sixers vs Bulls: The Philadelphia 76ers are in Chicago on the tail end of back-to-back games tonight, closing out their calendar year against the Bulls. Coming off last night’s come-from-behind victory over the Rockets in Houston, the Sixers will be looking to end their calendar year on a three-game winning streak. The Bulls will be looking to put an end to that streak after a disappointing loss on Thursday to the Indiana Pacers.

Sixers at Bulls: Game Info

Who: Philadelphia 76ers (22-9) at Chicago Bulls (14-19)
When: 8:00 pm EST
Where: United Center, Chicago Ill
Watch: NBC Sports Philadelphia, NBC Sports Chicago, NBA League Pass

Sixers at Bulls: Betting info

Spread: Sixers +2.5 | Bulls -2.5
Moneyline: Sixers +135 | Bulls -115
Total: Over/Under 224

What’s going on with the Sixers

After a disappointing game against the Heat on Christmas Day, guard Tyrese Maxey has bounced back in the past two games, averaging 32.5 points over the two contests. Without last season’s MVP, Joel Embiid, the Sixers have gone 2-1 over their last three games with Maxey leading the way in both victories.

Sixers
Philadelphia 76ers guard Tyrese Maxey (0) looks for an opening around Oklahoma City Thunder guard Josh Giddey (3) in the first half of an NBA basketball game, Saturday, Nov. 25, 2023, in Oklahoma City. (AP Photo/Kyle Phillips)

In Embiid’s absence, Tobias Harris has stepped up, averaging 23.7 points per game over the last three while shooting 50.8% from the floor. DeAnthony Melton, while not shooting well from beyond the three-point line, has managed 17.3 points in the three games that Embiid has missed. While both players have stepped up of late, they’ll have to continue that when Embiid returns from his ankle injury, sometime after the New Year.

With Paul Reed not having much luck against the Rocket, Nick Nurse leaned on Morris with 27 minutes in Houston. The Sixers are going to need more from Kelly Oubre who still seems to be working out the kinks from coming back from injury, trying to get to the point that he was early in the season. With the Bulls devastated by injuries, the team shouldn’t need a lot from their starters and this game may just be one that the reserves get a good number of quality minutes.

What’s going on with the Bulls?

While the Bulls have Demar DeRozan and Coby White ready to go for tonight’s game, that’s about the only bright spots for the team that’s been riddled with injuries. Already without Lonzo Ball for the season, Nikola Vucevic (groin), Zach LaVine (foot), and Torrey Craig (foot) will all miss tonight’s game while Javon Carter and Patrick Williams are both listed as questionable.

Sixers
Chicago Bulls’ Nikola Vucevic, left, and Philadelphia 76ers’ Joel Embiid chase a rebound during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, Dec. 18, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

While the Bulls injury report is a long one, they still have some good players with DeRozan and White, along with Alex Caruso and Andre Drummond two players that could provide some issues for the Sixers. They’ve had some quality games and are 5-5 over their last ten games, with victories over the Lakers and Heat in that mix.

The Bulls are in 10th place in the Eastern Conference and 12 games back from the first-place Boston Celtics. They’re not anywhere near where they anticipated being at the start of the season. They’ve been rumored to be listening to offers for Lavine and guard Alex Caruso but having Lavine and his $40 million cap hit on the injured list, isn’t helping them. The end of the year doesn’t look good for the Bulls, even against a Sixers team that’s missing two starters, including their best player.

What to watch for tonight

The Sixers shouldn’t have a problem dispatching the depleted Bulls but after watching last nights struggles against the Rockets, nothing is guaranteed. Tyrese Maxey should look to continue his hot streak but will have his hands full with Caruso, DeRozan, and White all coming after him on defense.

What the Sixers will need is for Tobias Harris and DeAnthony Melton to continue playing well, with better shooting from Melton, as well as key reserves like Pat Beverly, Marcus Morris, Robert Covington, and maybe even Mo Bamba, to step up while the team awaits Embiid’s returns.

The Bulls don’t stand much of a chance against a very good and deep Sixers team but they still have DeRozan, White, and Caruso who can get points in bunches and put a cramp in the Sixers’ end-of-year plans. This game, for what it’s worth, shouldn’t be close yet, the Sixers tend to give their fans headaches when they play teams like the Bulls and Rockets. This game should really be a show for Tyrese Maxey and the Sixers shouldn’t have a real problem.

Prediction

Sixers 124 – Bulls 108

AP Photo/Lynne Sladky