Sixers-Bulls Preview

Philadelphia 76ers Status Check:
Record: 15-6
Division: 1-2
Conference: 11-3
Home Record: 11-2
Last 10 Games: 7-3
Streak: Won 3
Last game: 74-69 win over Orlando
PPG: 97.5 (8th)
Opponents PPG: 86.1(1st)
Offensive Rating: 106.5 (6th)
Defensive Rating: 94.0 (1st)
Pace: 90.6 (21st)
Effective Field Goal Percentage: .503 (7th)
Turnover Percentage: .111 (1st)
Defensive Rebound Percentage: .749 (10th)
Offensive Rebound Percentage: .225 (29th)
Free Throws Per Field Goal Attempt: .173 (29th)
Opp. eFG%: .441 (1st)
Opp. TO%:  .148 (11th)
Opp. FT/FGA: .171 (3rd)
Leading scorer: Louis Williams (15.3)

Stats from Basketball-Reference

76ers Injury Report:
Spencer Hawes: out indefinitely (strained left Achilles)
Nikola Vucevic: missed Monday’s game against Orlando (hyperextended left knee/strained left quadriceps)

Overview:
Chicago continues their long road trip, heading to Philadelphia to take on the somewhat surprising leaders in the Atlantic Division. While Chicago is in the midst of a road-trip, the Sixers are coming into an extremely tough part of their schedule.

After taking on Orlando on Monday, the Sixers’ next six games come against Chicago, Miami, Atlanta, the Lakers, the Spurs and the Clippers. That is a tough stretch, but if there is a positive to it, they play five of those six games at home.

Philly didn’t get off to the most impressive start to this run, but they got the win, which really is the only thing that matters.

The Sixers beat Orlando in a game that ended with a college-like score. This win over Orlando would have been impressive a year ago, but right now, who knows what it means.

The Sixers had three players in double figures, and still won the game. That’s right, just three. And those guys scored 14 (Andre Iguodala), 12 (Evan Turner) and 10 (Thaddeus Young). Philly shot 37.5 percent from the field, and just 52.6 percent from the line.

Surprisingly, they beat Orlando in both of these categories. The Magic shot 33.3 percent from the field and 45.5 percent from the line. There have been rumors that some high school coaches plan on forcing their players to watch this game rather than run laps, because they see it as a worse punishment.

But the Sixers are a good team this year. That Orlando game was probably one of their worst games of the season…and they still got the win. That sounds like something Chicago often does—getting the win, no matter how pretty.

And these two teams do have a lot in common.

It will be a battle of two of the most impressive defenses in the league. The Sixers are first in defensive rating (94.0), with the Bulls in a somewhat distant second (97.3). Philly also leads in opponent effective field goal percentage (.441) and are third in opponent free throws per field goal attempt. Chicago is fourth in opponent eFG (.455) and second in opponent free throws per field goal attempt.

And these aren’t just pure defensive teams; both have been good on offense as well. Chicago is fourth in offensive rating (107.8), while Philly is sixth (106.5). Philadelphia is first in turnover percentage.

But as good as Philadelphia has been in some categories, they’ve been horrible in others. They currently rank next to last in both offensive rebounding percentage and free throws per field goal attempt (Chicago is the top offensive rebounding team in the league).

The Bulls are coming off a win against Washington. Chicago won thanks to 35 points from a “crazy” Derrick Rose. Carlos Boozer scored 18 points on 9-16 shooting, to show us that he can still play basketball.

Boozer is like the winter weather in Syracuse. You never expect him to be hot, but when he is it’s great, and you enjoy the day. But it doesn’t happen a lot, so you never really get your hopes up. When it is hot though, there is a really good chance it’s going to be a great day. But enough of me complaining about snow…

While the Bulls still have their injuries, one player is finding his rhythm. Joakim Noah has five straight double-doubles and his last time out in Washington was three assists from a triple-double (Noah had 14 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists). But more than that, the wild Noah that Bulls fans love (and fans of every other team hate) has returned. His energy and spirit seem to be back to form.

It wasn’t all good news though. The Bulls were outrebounded by Washington (44-40) and outscored in the paint by a huge margin (50-32).

This may not be a huge factor, as Philly is 22nd in points in the paint this season (38.0) and are coming off a game in which they scored just eight points in the paint against the Magic.

Last year, the Sixers took two out of three in this series. Chicago won the first game in a blowout, 121-76. Rose scored 22 points and added 12 assists, while Boozer scored 16 and grabbed eleven boards. Iguodala and Young were the only two scorers in double figures for Philly.

In the second game, Boozer went off for 31 points (14-19 shooting) while Rose scored 27 points and dished nine assists. The Sixers went off as well: Jodie Meeks scored 24, Louis Williams scored 20 points and Jrue Holiday scored 19. In this game Philly shot 56.3 percent and the Bulls shot 50.3 percent. Don’t expect these high shooting numbers this year against the stingy defenses.

Game three was more of the same. Rose scored 31, Boozer scored 15 and Deng added ten points and nine rebounds. But Derrick turned the ball over ten times. For the Sixers, Young scored 21 points and had seven rebounds off the bench.

So far this year, Philadelphia is 11-2 when they are at home, and allowing opponents to score just 81.2 points per game in the Wachovia Center.

Depending on how the seeding plays out, the Sixers could very well be a second-round playoff matchup for Chicago. Chicago struck first last year in this series, can they do the same on the road tonight?

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