And welcome to the real season opener.
It was really cool to see two nights of NBA action to hold us off until the Sixers took the court for the first time this year, right?
...On tonight’s docket, the 76ers look to tally their first mark in the win column as the Chicago Bulls come to town. The Bulls, although not on anyone’s immediate radar for the Eastern Conference, had an intriguing offseason and have a group of talented young pieces that they could mold into a great core moving forward.
The number 7 overall pick from the 2017 draft, Lauri Markkanen, would normally be one of the star names headlining the match-up, but the second-year seven-footer will be sidelined for several weeks with a high grade lateral elbow sprain.
However, the team is not lacking in firepower. Chicago lost the series to the Sixers last season (2-1 in favor of Philly), but they topped 100 points in each of those contests. The Bulls doubled down on the offensive side of the ball with big contracts handed out to Zach LaVine and Jabari Parker. Bobby Portis comes off a preseason where he averaged 17 ppg and Justin Holiday is a capable three point threat at 35% shooting for his career.
On the opposite side of the ball though, Chicago has glaring holes. Rookie Wendell Carter Jr. has shown flashes of being a capable rim protector moving forward in the league, but he will have the tall task of opposing Joel Embiid in his first regular season contest. Aside from Carter Jr, the Bulls will struggle to oppose the Sixers transition game to the same effect as Boston.
For the Sixers, questions are still surrounding Markelle Fultz, who still has shown a reluctance to shoot, and looked out of sorts in the second half against Boston. Hopefully, Coach Brett Brown will be able to sort out his rotations to flow more consistently in this second game of the season, especially if Fultz will continue to start the first half and come off the bench in the second half.
Meanwhile, Simmons looks to continue his strong start to the season and not just flirt with a triple-double (19/15/8 against Boston), but collect his first of the season. With no Bulls defender even close to Horford or Brown, Simmons should be able to manage the offense and score at will.
And of course, Joel Embiid is looking for a statement win and showing after the loss to the C’s. He will most certainly be licking his chops with a rookie defending him on the other end. Look for a dominant night from the big guy in a Sixers win.
When: 8 p.m. ET
Wells Fargo Center The Center, Philadelphia, PA