On Saturday evening, the Bulls will host the 76ers for the third and final meeting of the two teams at 7:00 P.M.
The Bulls are tied with the Raptors for the three-seed, but despite a season sweep over Toronto, the Raptors own the tiebreakers as champions of the laughing stock Atlantic Division. A quick glance at the standings shows a clear interest in pushing a boost in the standings to dodge the Wizards and face the Bucks, Celtics, or Nets in the first round.
|4/11 vs PHI (18-61)||4/11 at MIA (35-44)|
|4/13 at BKN (37-42)||4/14 at BOS (37-42)|
|4/15 vs ATL (60-19)||4/15 vs CHA (33-46)|
Jimmy Butler (calf) missed Thursday's win over the Heat, but will play tonight; and Derrick Rose (knee) showed flashes of his old self, despite the 20-minute limit. And we may see more of Rose, tonight, K.C. Johnson reports:
Big part of reason Rose limited to 20 minutes initially was he returned for back-to-back. Makes sense to add 4th segment after day off.— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) April 11, 2015
Thibodeau also said "we'll continue to add as we go along" for Rose. Tribune reported today minute limits lifted for Rose, Noah in playoffs.— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) April 11, 2015
Rookie breakout center-forward Nerlens Noel (ankle) is out for Saturday's contest, so Philly is basically left with a band of rec league chuckers. The Sixers are a terrible 18-61, but battling the other way for a better share of the 2015 NBA Draft Lottery. They are trying so, so hard to lose, and have excelled at losing seven straight and nine of their last ten.
Can the Bulls just wipe the floor with these bums, as they should? Moving the Sixers off the three-point line and grabbing rebounds will be the path to a blowout, instead of a higher variance ending that makes for the chance of losing and making the first round of the playoffs much harder.
Philly is 6th in the NBA this season in three-point attempts and 13th in ORB%, raising the value of those three-pointers to potentially turn misses into second chance points. Rookie power forward Furkan Aldemir, from Turkey, is leading the team with his 15.4% ORB%, which would rank 3rd in the league if he qualified, and has had a boost in minutes, starting four straight for the Sixers.
The Bulls won the previous two meetings of the two teams, and the Sixers are tanking.
A full-strength Bulls team should really knock these Sixers down early and drive a boot in their throat through the final buzzer. This really shouldn't require much metagaming.
Stats via Basketball-Reference.com.