Earlier in the day, the Sixers held a very light (personnel wise) morning shoot around. JJ Redick, Mike Scott, Tobias Harris, Joel Embiid and Jimmy Butler did not attend. Butler was declared out during the day and Joel was a game time decision. Embiid and the rest played. The question surrounding who would play and who would rest left a few questions in the minds of fans: do the Sixers want to lock up the 3 seed? Are they content to forfeit it in order to improve their first or second round match up when the playoffs start? Are they nursing some nagging injuries that may take precedent over seeding?
Once game time rolled around and only James Ennis (quad) and Jimmy Butler (back) were declared out, it seemed that indeed the Sixers had shown up in Chicago with the intent to win. With no Otto Porter, Lauri Markkanen, Wendell Carter Jr. or Zach LaVine in the lineup for the tanking bovine group, it would have been pretty creepy if they didn’t too.
Things may not have gone according to plan right away. A few familiar faces like Process legend, JaKarr Sampson and the Sixers’ former 1st round pick Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot were out there for the Bulls; the same team who broke the Sixers heart last time Philadelphia visited the Windy City, after a game winner by Zach LaVine.
Sampson made life difficult on the Sixers and put up a game high 29 points on just 17 shots along with 8 boards and 2 blocks. TLC had 14 points and 6 rebounds. Both players served as reminders about the Sixers’ (who went months with an empty roster spot and now roster 5 centers in the year 2019) own lack of bench depth.
But in the end Philadelphia simply bullied Chicago and won 116-96. Joel Embiid put up 20 points, 10 rebounds, 5 dimes and 3 blocks all while apparently sleep-walking and utilizing 15 percent of his full capacity. JJ Redick was hyper efficient and pumped in 23 points on just 12 shots in only 24 minutes. Tobias Harris contributed 16 points, 5 assists and 6 boards.
The 76ers out rebounded the Bulls 54-38 and took 11 more free throws. They largely avoided fouling and limited themselves to 14 personals for the game.
Boban Marjanovic, Zhaire Smith, Jonah Bolden, Shake Milton and freshly inked Greg Monroe all got some run in this one. That’s significant because it’s unclear exactly how the Sixers playoff rotation will look with Ennis on the shelf for at least another couple of weeks, but coach Brett Brown offered a clue after the game:
The win is the team’s 50th of the season, and marks the second straight year the team has won 50 games in a year. Brett Brown is one of 3 coaches to accomplish that feat in team history according to Derek Bodner of The Athletic:
Brett Brown became just the third coach in franchise history to have multiple 50-win seasons with the 76ers. He joins Alex Hannum, who accomplished the feat twice with Wilt and Greer, and Billy Cunningham, who did it in 7 of his 8 seasons as an NBA coach during the Dr. J era.— Derek Bodner (@DerekBodnerNBA) April 7, 2019
With a win against either Miami this coming Tuesday or in Philly vs. the Bulls on Wednesday, the team will lock up the 3 seed which would be huge in case they wound up playing the Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals.