The Philadelphia 76ers start off the 2024 calendar year at home on the back aide of a home-and-home series against the Chicago Bulls. Leading MVP candidate Joel Embiid is expected to return in tonight’s matchup. The Sixers will hope that the return of Embiid will be enough to avenge a 105-92 loss to the Bulls on Saturday night.
Sixers vs. Bulls game info
Who: Chicago Bulls (15-19) at Philadelphia 76ers (22-10)
When: 7:00 pm EST
Where: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia Pa
Watch: NBC Sports Philadelphia, NBC Sports Chicago, NBA League Pass
Sixers vs. Bulls betting info
Spread: Sixers -10.5 | Bulls +10.5
Moneyline: Sixers -520| Bulls +390
Total: Over/Under 223.5
What’s going on with the Sixers
The big news to start the new year is that MVP front-runner Joel Embiid looks to be making his return to the lineup after having missed the past four games with a right ankle sprain. While the Sixers went 2-2 in the games that Embiid missed, having their All-Star center back will give the team a much-needed boost. The Sixers are a completely different team when the league’s leading scorer is on the floor.
Guard Tyrese Maxey, who’s currently 13th in the league in scoring with 26.1 points per game, should see his scoring and, more importantly, his shooting improve with the return of Embiid. Maxey has had an up-and-down go of it in the four games Embiid has missed.
In the two losses, Maxey averaged 16 points, but in their two wins, he averaged 32.5 points. With Embiid on the floor, Maxey should enjoy more freedom than when other teams can focus on the Sixers’ second star.
Forward Nico Batum returned to the lineup in the last game against Chicago and saw 20 minutes off the bench while scoring nine points. With Embiid returning, the Sixers will probably look to start Batum alongside Embiid as they play very well together.
With Batum and Embiid back in the lineup, forward Kelly Oubre Jr. is more likely to start than Patrick Beverly for De’Anthony Melton, who is out with back soreness. Except for Melton, the Sixers appear to be healthy to start the new year.
What’s going on with the Bulls
The Bulls dispatched the Sixers on Saturday night, and while the win was a good one for a Chicago team that currently sits in 10th place in the Eastern Conference, it came against a Sixers team that was missing its best player and had played three road games in four days. The Bulls, tonight, will not be so lucky as the Sixers are healthy and rested.
This Bulls squad is facing an uphill battle as they’re missing Zach LaVine, Nikola Vucevic, and Torrey Craig, who are all out with injuries. Lavine is the big one for the Bulls, as the team would want to move him before the trading deadline, but his injury, coupled with his salary for the next couple of years, makes Lavine a hard sell to anyone around the league.
The Bulls will have DeMar DeRozan and Coby White to lead the team tonight, with Patrick Williams, Alex Caruso, and Andre Drummond all looking to get extended minutes as the short-handed Bulls hope to keep up with the Sixers. A good outing by Caruso could increase his value in the trade market, especially to a team like the Sixers that have been linked to the guard since last season.
What to watch for
The Sixers will be looking to start the 2024 calendar year off with a bang. Having lost the previous game, in Chicago, to the Bulls, they’ll be looking to make a statement with Embiid’s return to the lineup at home. Having the league’s leading scorer and reigning MVP back in the lineup will do wonders for a Sixers team looking to climb from their current third position in the Eastern Conference.
As Embiid goes, so do the Sixers. He’s the catalyst for the whole team, and he helps open up the floor for players like Kelly Oubre and Tobias Harris and especially guard Tyrese Maxey, who won’t see as many double-teams from the Bulls as they must account for Embiid.
This game should be back to the Sixers team that we’ve grown accustomed to over the past two months. They’re an efficient scoring machine when they’re healthy, and that’s exactly what they’ll be looking to do tonight while holding back a Bulls team that only managed 105 points against the Sixers without Embiid.
Sixers 127 – Bulls 107