Preview: 76ers host Bulls to close out season series
After an extra day of rest for the fellas in red, white, and blue down in Miami, the 76ers are back on home court to host another top dog of the East in the Chicago Bulls.
Currently, the Bulls hold a 39-25 record, which is good for the fourth seed in a tight-packed eastern conference. For some context, the difference between the second and fifth seed is one-and-a-half games. In fact, if the Bulls beat the 76ers tonight they’ll slide right past Philly for higher seeding since they are just half a game behind the Sixers.
Doing some quick math that means that the Sixers hold a 39-24 record currently, which gives them the second seed in the East. Milwaukee is currently tied with the 76ers, but hold a worse in-conference record that holds them back from the top spot. For the 76ers, a win against the Bulls tonight would not only give them another full-game cushion over Chicago but would complete a sweep against them in the season series.
- Nikola Vucevic (Questionable)
- Lonzo Ball (Out)
- Alex Caruso (Out)
- Patrick Williams (Out)
- Paul Millsap (Out)
76ers Backup Center Minutes
With Paul Millsap sidelined tonight due to personal issues, the 76ers are going to have to find production somewhere else at backup center tonight, and there are a couple of options.
The most likely being the 76ers’ recent acquisition through the buyout market, DeAndre Jordan. Jordan agreed to mutually part ways with the Lakers earlier this month and signed on with the Sixers for the rest of the season after clearing waivers.
Jordan is obviously not the same man that dazzled NBA fans during the Lob City era, but can certainly provide coming off the bench. Jordan can still rebound on both ends of the court at a good level, and certainly still catch lobs if put in the lineup next to James Harden. Though don’t expect any posters like he had back in the good old days.
As of late the 76ers have had a knack from getting great production from former Lakers veteran centers with Dwight Howard and Andre Drummond. It will be interesting to see if Jordan can elevate his play and grab that backup role over Millsap in the opportunity he’ll likely get tonight.
Charles Bassey was designated to head back to the Delaware Blue Coats, and Paul Reed hasn’t been able to grab any minutes at the five spot since Paul Millsap arrived in South Philly.
Take Away One of Bulls’ Big Three
Currently the Bulls are on their worst skid of the season, dropping their last four games in a row. Chicago is still looking for their first win since the All-Star break, and the 76ers need to contain one of the Bulls’ big three guys to make sure that doesn’t happen in Wells Fargo Center.
The Bulls have endured a brutal stretch of games, but also have their fair share of injury issues still plaguing the team. Without Ball in the starting lineup the team loses a ton of its facilitation. Then your top two guys off the bench in Patrick Williams and Alex Caruso aren’t playing to give your team a spark at the end of the rotation. This means Chicago has been completely leaning on LaVine, DeRozan, and Vucevic for a lot, especially scoring.
In their latest loss to the Bucks the Bulls scored 112 points as a team. Nearly 80 of those points came from the Bulls big three with no one else on the team scoring in double digits. If the 76ers want to hand Chicago their fifth loss in a row, Philly has to try and take away one of those three guys.
Joel Embiid has certainly been able to shut down Vucevic on a couple occasions this season, but he isn’t asked to score much to begin with. No one can really slow down DeMar DeRozan this season, but Matisse Thybulle is one of the most dominant defenders for a reason. You get Thybulle giving DeRozan fits and Embiid locking up Vucevic again, and the Bulls won’t have anyone else to turn to for scoring outside LaVine.
Today’s odds brought to you by Parx Sportsbook, the official gambling partner of The Liberty Line.
|Chicago Bulls||+215||+7 (-110)||O 232.5 (-110)|
|Philadelphia 76ers||-275||-7 (-110)||U 232.5 (-112)|
While I don’t believe James Harden’s first loss with the 76ers will come tonight, I like the Bulls to cover this game. DeMar and Zach have been on a scoring tear despite the losses, and played close against the Bucks on Friday. With the Bulls getting the whole weekend off and Philly playing their third game in four days, I’ll take the points but a 76ers win nonetheless.
Pick: Bulls +7 (-110)
Mandatory Credit: Tim Nwachukwu.