With a victory Monday night in Chicago, the 43-21 Sixers would extend their Eastern Conference lead over the second-place Nets to a full game. Brooklyn will conclude a mini-series against the Bucks on Tuesday.
Here are the essentials for the Sixers’ matchup with the 26-38 Bulls:
- When: 9 p.m. ET with Sixers Pregame Live at 8 p.m.
- Where: United Center
- Broadcast: NBC Sports Philadelphia Plus
- Live stream: NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the MyTeams app
And here are three storylines to watch:
A road back-to-back set isn’t any team’s first wish. However, the Sixers likely wouldn’t have minded this one much if they’d stayed in Texas after beating the Spurs in overtime. Instead, they’ll head back to play the Rockets on Wednesday.
“It’s just the worst scheduling of the year,” Sixers head coach Doc Rivers said Sunday. “We are 45 minutes from Houston and we’re going to fly to Chicago and play Chicago, and then fly back to Houston. It makes no sense, but it is what it is. I’m sure every team has had one of those or two of these during the year, and we’re just going to have to buck up and win the game anyway.”
All of Rivers’ starters played between 34 and 36 minutes against the Spurs. Before Sunday’s game, he said the team’s priority during the upcoming stretch of five games in seven days would be health. We’ll see whether any players sit in Chicago.
Bulls barely clinging to contention, missing stars
Since Nikola Vucevic’s Bulls debut, Chicago is 7-14 and a bottom-10 team in both offensive rating and defensive rating, per Cleaning the Glass.
The Bulls have lost three games in a row, dropping to 12th in the Eastern Conference standings, 2.5 games behind the 10th-place Wizards. A play-in tournament spot in Year 1 under head coach Billy Donovan looks like a long shot at this point.
All-Star Zach LaVine is out Monday. He's been cleared to rejoin the Bulls after being in the NBA's health and safety protocols the last 10 games, but Donovan said the team is ramping him back up. The Bulls are hopeful he'll be able to play Thursday, per Donovan.
Vucevic is also out with right adductor tightness, and Troy Brown Jr. is sidelined with a left ankle sprain.
Sixers' half-court offense hasn't been a strength
When an opponent takes care of the ball and prevents the Sixers from scoring in transition, will the team’s half-court offense be good enough to win deep in the playoffs?
It’s a valid question, and one that comes to mind after the Spurs held the Sixers to 18 fourth-quarter points. San Antonio allowed two fast-break points all night and the Sixers had plenty of late possessions with little ball and player movement.
The Sixers have scored 96.6 points per 100 half-court plays, according to Cleaning the Glass, which ranks 15th in the league. Still, half-court offensive issues haven’t cost the team many tight games. The Sixers’ 23-8 mark in the “clutch” is best in the NBA.