The torches and pitchforks have been carefully laid to the side of the road, as the Philadelphia 76ers prevailed in what felt like a must-win situation Wednesday night against the Brooklyn Nets. Now, the Sixers retake the Wells Fargo Center floor Friday night for yet another nationally-televised game (I wonder what the ESPN folks got up to the last couple days in Philadelphia).
There are a few reasons to believe the Sixers should find success in their first of three meetings this season against the Chicago Bulls. First, the game takes place in Philadelphia, where the Sixers transform into a combination of the 2015-16 Warriors and Maximus Decimus Meridius (currently 19-2 at home). Also, while the Sixers are without Joel Embiid, the Bulls are missing both their first-string (Wendell Carter Jr) and second-string (Daniel Gafford) centers. As much as Ben Detrick may stan for Luke Kornet, I feel comfortable with Chicago sending him out there for 30-plus minutes, as the Bulls did for their last game against Washington.
Finally, the Bulls are, to put it bluntly, not a great team. Their minus-1.7 net rating ranks 17th in the NBA. Their record stands at 15-27 on the season, which is only slightly better on a percentage basis from the Sixers’ road record. Recall your feelings of hopelessness that the Sixers could ever win a game on the road, and that’s what Bulls fans go through on an every-game basis. Playing defense remains anathema to their top scorer, Zach LaVine. Their rookie top-10 pick, Coby White, has a true shooting percentage of 48.0 percent, and ranks 79th out of 85 among point guards in defensive real plus-minus. I’m sure Bulls fans would love to have the “problems” the Sixers do.
Plus, the Sixers have had guys step up in the wake of Joel Embiid’s absence. Tobias Harris led all NBA scorers Wednesday night with 34 points, and has picked up his work on the glass with three straight double-doubles. Matisse Thybulle reappeared in the starting lineup Wednesday and recorded a career-high four blocks. Ben Simmons plays every first half now like it’s the NBA Finals. Things aren’t as bad as the internet naysayers would have you believe. Let’s watch Philadelphia go out there tonight and take care of business.
Who: Philadelphia 76ers vs. Chicago Bulls
When: 7:00 pm ET
Where: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, PA
Watch: NBC Sports Philadelphia, ESPN
Listen: 97.5 The Fanatic
Philadelphia: Joel Embiid (out - hand)
Chicago: Otto Porter (out - foot); Wendell Carter Jr (out - ankle); Daniel Gafford (out - thumb); Chandler Hutchison (questionable - shoulder); Luke Kornet (probable - thumb); Tomas Satoransky (probable - ankle); Ryan Arcidiacono (probable - elbow)