Enhanced Box Score: 76ers 116, Bulls 91 – March 22, 2023
Well, that sucked.
Flat. Slow. Uninspired. However you want to use to describe this one is fine by me. It’s hard to believe THIS was the effort the Bulls turned after the win in Philly on Monday night. But knowing the roller coaster experience we’ve been on all season, in hindsight … it’s not too surprising.
After building up a bunch of goodwill with a win over the 76ers Monday to extend the winning streak to 3 games, the Bulls were absolutely demolished by Philly tonight. Oh, and DeMar DeRozan left the game with a right quad strain – the same quad that caused him to miss 4 games earlier this season.
So to dive into this one, it was brutal from the tip-off. On Philly’s opening possession, they grabbed two offensive boards and on their third attempt at a fresh shot clock they knocked down a 3-pointer. That pretty much told the story. It was 17-0 76ers before you could blink.
From there it didn’t get much better.
The bench provided a little bit of a spark. And, credit where it’s due, Coby White played a nice game. He did his best to bring the Bulls back into it. He’s really starting to grow as a point guard and developing as a distributor — and on the defensive end, as well.
That said, generally speaking, the defensive rotations were bad, and the offense lacked creativity and movement, falling into bad habits like they have so many times this season. The Bulls doubled Embiid often, but the Sixers found the weak spot every time.
I talked about in the pregame how important it was for the Bulls to shoot the three tonight, because Philly wasn’t going to have another off night. Well, that sure came to fruition! Eight three-pointers in the 2nd Quarter helped the Sixers get themselves a 76-48 lead at the half and by then this one was more than over. The Bulls, on the other hand, put up just 25 three-point attempts and shot just 24% from beyond the arc.
As if that wasn’t enough, DeMar didn’t quite look totally right tonight. But then again, no one on the team did. So maybe it’s hard to judge what exactly happened to that quad and when. Hopefully, it’s nothing too serious with him, and sitting him was just a precautionary move.
The Bulls have a day off before their tough-but-winnable games in Portland and Los Angeles on Friday and Sunday. Needless to say, they want to attack those games with DeRozan as opposed to without. Judging from the postgame reaction, it’s looking like there’s a chance DeMar will be in the lineup.
Luckily, the Bulls did get some help in the standings tonight. The Raptors fell to Indiana, so the Bulls still sit just a half-game outside of 9th place. On the downside, that does bring Indiana to within 1.5 games of the 10th-place spot (and we all know who owns the tiebreaker there!).
I’d like to think the Bulls can wash their hands of this one and call it an off night combined with the Sixers shooting the lights out, but no one knows how this team will respond. The one constant this season has been inconsistency.
But hey, we’re onto the next one. If you asked any Bulls fan if they’d take a 1-1 split of the home-and-home with Philly they’d have taken it in a heartbeat. Losing this way sucked, but it’s just one loss. A 3-1 week is still attainable and that needs to be the focus heading into Portland on Friday night.