After the Sixers stymied the Magic on Monday in a 75-69 victory, (which was more lopsided than the final score says) the focus moves on to the Eastern Conference leading Chicago Bulls tonight in the WFC. From what I gather, Hawes is still unlikely to play, but Vucevic could see some time. He dressed for the Magic game for an emergency role, but wasn’t needed.
I didn’t get a chance to watch the Magic game because of work, so I don’t have much to say on the topic. From the looks of it, the Sixers were in control the entire time, while committing only six turnovers. That’s really impressive. Doubters may say that the Sixers played a struggling Magic team, and let’s face it, they are struggling, but holding an NBA team to 69 points is very impressive.
It would be nice to have Hawes back soon. As Marcus Hayes posted on Philly.com, the Sixers are struggling mightily offensively without Hawes. With him in the lineup the Sixers are scoring at a 102.6 PPG clip, while scoring drops dramatically to 90.7 without him.
It’s been nice to face some weak teams during that stretch, but the defense has absolutely been dominant since then. It’s been three straight games holding opponents under 75 points, which again, is impressive in and of itself. Getting Hawes back especially during this six game gauntlet would be huge.
As for tonight’s game, the Sixers will have their hands full with a defensive juggernaut in the Chicago Bulls. The Bulls are 2nd in the league in PPG Allowed behind only the Sixers. Statistically, the teams are about even all around, with rebounding being the only truly favorable stat for the bulls, while the Sixers hold a significant egde in steals per game.
I expect this to be another low scoring affair. Neither team should score more than 85 points, and the Sixers will be in for a dog-fight. I believe this game will set the foundations for an extremely physical rivalry between these two teams over the next few years. The play styles are very similar and the defenses are brutal, but the Bulls have reigning MVP Derrick Rose.
I believe the Sixers and Bulls split the season series last season 2-2 but I could be wrong. I think this game will tell more about where the Sixers stand than their game with Miami on Friday. I still expect the Heat to walk away with the East so I can’t really compare the Sixers and Heat at this point, especially after the ugly loss a few weeks ago. Take care of business against the Bulls and the Sixers may start stating a case for a legitimate threat to make the Eastern Conference Finals.
The game starts at 7PM EST on CSN. I probably again wont be able to watch it live, but thank you NBA Broadband League Pass for archiving games.