After securing wins against Detroit, Atlanta, and Portland, the 5-2 Philadelphia 76ers look to tally their fourth straight victory as they finish out their four-game homestand tonight against the Chicago Bulls. Chicago enters play with the best record in the Eastern Conference at 6-1, their only defeat a one-point loss to the New York Knicks.
It’s nothing but good vibes at the moment for the USCLA Bulls, who brought in DeMar DeRozan and Lonzo Ball in separate sign-and-trades during the offseason, to run alongside long-time fixture Zach LaVine and Nikola Vucevic, who arrived in a trade deadline deal last season. With Alex Caruso, who signed with the Bulls in free agency, Chicago is running a truly egalitarian offense, with those five players all averaging between 3.9 and 4.9 assists per game. Why the Lakers declined to make a competitive offer to retain Alex Caruso’s services remains a mystery. The only bummer in the Windy City has been Patrick Williams needing to undergo wrist surgery. The promising second-year player will be out four-to-six months. Additionally, Coby White is still without a timetable after he had labrum surgery during the summer.
On the home sidelines, the Sixers saw their supporting cast step up in a big way to defeat Portland with many of their starters unavailable. Joel Embiid should be back in action tonight after his pre-determined rest day on Monday. Tobias Harris is still expected to be unavailable due to health and safety protocols. Danny Green is out after experiencing hamstring tightness during Monday’s game. Ben Simmons is (gesticulates widely) doing whatever it is Ben Simmons is doing; he won’t be playing basketball for the Sixers tonight.
Aside from off-the-court stuff often involving reporting from Ramona Shelburne, Philadelphia’s start to the season has been fun as well. Seth Curry has carried over his aggressiveness from the postseason, Tyrese Maxey has leveled up as a defender in the starting lineup, both Furkan Korkmaz and Shake Milton have provided terrific scoring off the bench, and Andre Drummond and Georges Niang look like absolute steals in the free agency bargain bin.
In tonight’s game, Vucevic has often provided an interesting matchup for Embiid, with his ability to stretch the floor pulling Joel out of the paint defensively. Of course, the flip side is a rested Embiid punishing Voose on the other end of the court. LaVine is playing through the pain of a torn ligament in his thumb, but he has four 30-point games in his last six against the Sixers. I’m not sure who will garner the opening assignment on him. It could be Maxey after playing strong defense against Trae Young and Damian Lillard in back-to-back games, or either Korkmaz or Matisse Thybulle tagging in off the bench in place of Green.
Tonight should be a blast, with two of the best teams in the East playing good basketball right now. Be sure to check back later to follow along with us here in Liberty Ballers.