[Thanks to jrobulls for today’s game preview. Slots available for the rest of the season if you want to sign up. -yfbb]
The playoff push continues as the Chicago Bulls head to Philadelphia to face an injured 76ers team that has lost four straight. Feel the intensity as we watch the Bulls struggle against inferior opponents. With the Pacers, Heat and Bulls all having the same record, some fans may look at the remaining Bulls schedule and see that they should make the playoffs with ease, but we all know that will not be the case.
The Bulls represent the best of basketball and the worst of basketball, best summed up by sweeping the Cavs and being swept by the Knicks. For every TNT Thursday, there is a Terrible Tuesday.
Will this team look like they want to be in the playoffs? Or are those playoff ticket ads before you enter bulls.com all in jest? What should we expect against the Philadelphia 76ers? I say more of the same.
A quarter of good play followed by a quarter of absolute terribleness only to be saved by Jimmy Butler making fadeaway jump shots in the corner.
This Sixers team gave up 141 points on Tuesday night to the Brooklyn Nets. That's right. 141 points. (Although the Nets improvement with Lin back is quite impressive). However, the Bulls display against the Knicks makes me worry just how sad this Bulls team can look.
The Bulls played the Sixers less than two weeks ago, ending in a 10-point victory for the Sixers. A Sixer named Shawn Long scored a career high 18 points that night, a feat he managed to match against the Nets on Tuesday. His efficiency off the bench is fairly impressive. His PER is 26.88. This would be good for 7th in the NBA just below LeBron, but he has only played 198 minutes. If he becomes a good player, we can all say "We saw him first!" Long was undrafted last year and was signed by the Delaware 87ers (whose name still amuses me). He was brought up on a 10-day contract and has placed himself solidly in the rotation. Using the D-League to grow a player can work! Who knew?
Dario Saric also had a career night in the last Bulls matchup, scoring 32 points with 10 rebounds. It would be quite the feat if he can repeat that performance as he plays under a 24-minute restriction for the rest of the year due to soreness in his left heal. Saric has stated he wanted to play in all 82 games this season and the Sixers are letting him fulfill his request.
Other Sixers to know include guard Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, forward Richaun Holmes, point guard TJ McConnell, and guard Justin Anderson. All are in their second year except Cabarrot, who is a rookie. Tiago Splitter is also on the roster. Who knew?
For the Bulls, I fully expect some Jimmy heroics. We will continue to see if Niko "March" Mirotic can continue playing well in a month other than March. Hopefully the bench improves from last game, although that's not saying too much.
Rondo is out with a sprained right wrist, and Jerian Grant is getting the start after being buried on the bench for the past couple weeks.
Grant, Butler, Zipser, Mirotic and Lopez have not played together all year.— Mark Strotman (@markstrot) April 6, 2017
Tonight, in Game 79, they start against the Sixers.
There are also reports Dwayne Wade might be back on Saturday against the Nets. Seeing if Wade can help the Bulls win against the Nets for a playoff position seems like the most Bulls thing ever, but let's see what tonight's game brings us first.
Game starts at 6:00 CST/7:00 EST on CSN Chicago and CSN Philly.