When the Philadelphia 76ers and Chicago Bulls take the floor Monday night, they'll be two teams in very different places still searching for an identity.
The Bulls are 4-3, coming off a bad overtime loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday. They shot just 35.5% from the field, were out rebounded, and allowed 50 points in the paint to Karl-Anthony Towns and company.
Here's what ESPN's Nick Friedell had to say about the team:
The difference now is that the Bulls don't know what their identity is, or what they want it to be. In five years under Thibodeau, the Bulls developed a reputation as being a hard-nosed team that was ready to get into a defensive street fight almost every night to protect a victory. While that wasn't always the case last season, this group still knew what its DNA was.
After just seven games into this season, it would be naive to think that Hoiberg and his group knew exactly what they wanted their identity to be, but it is strange to see this group of players struggle so much to execute at various points throughout the game.
Chicago is a solid team, and for now, they're capable enough of surviving on talent alone. Jimmy Butler has been able to carry the load offensively, and Pau Gasol continues to post really impressive numbers.
Philadelphia, on the other hand, isn't a team good enough to coast by on skill as they search for their own identity. They fell to 0-6 on Saturday after an eight-point loss to the Orlando Magic. Each game (outside of Utah) has been thoroughly enjoyable to watch, and filled with lots of moments that make you hopeful for the future. Rookie Jahlil Okafor is averaging 19.7 points on 52.7% shooting and everything this team could have possibly asked for from an offensive perspective.
But there are still growing pains, and they seem to revolve around Okafor. The team is still working to adjust their style to his play to his game, while still staying true their philosophy. One noticeable problem that the Sixers have run into is that many of their players aren't used to playing with a post player of his caliber, resulting in poor spacing.
Re-watching MIL game. Notice a lot of guys get bunched up on Jah postups. Makes it hard for him to pass when doubled pic.twitter.com/dl2rFwFhk5— Jake Pavorsky (@JakePavorsky) November 8, 2015
And while Brett Brown insists that keeping up the pace is more of a priority than good post play, it's hard to do stay true to that when your best offensive source is 6' 11", 271 lbs. So far, Philadelphia is currently 23rd in the league in pace, an early sign that the offense may not run as quick as Brown would like it to.
While both teams do have their problems, their matchup presents them a good start to try and correct them. For Chicago, they'll have the chance to combat their effort issue against a Sixers team that never goes away quietly. Philadelphia will have to decide if they want to push the pace, or focus on attacking an interior defense that gives up a lot of points close to the basket.
There's an identity still to be found with these two teams, and they'll head out Monday night with an opportune chance to find it.