Chicago at Philadelphia
Time: 6 PM CST (ESPN)
Spread: PHI -7
Odds c/o 5dimes
The Philadelphia 76ers are 26-16 and seeded No. 6 in the Eastern Conference playoff picture. The Sixers have lost six of its last 10 overall but still sport a +3.4 point differential. Philly is also 7-point favorites while hosting the Chicago Bulls in the first half of a Friday night ESPN doubleheader. The over/under is set at 214.5 points according to NBA oddsmakers at bookmaker 5dimes.
PHILADELPHIA NEWS & NOTES:
The 76ers are 19-2 SU at home where it hosts the Chicago Bulls tonight. Philadelphia trails Boston by just two games for the lead of the Atlantic Division.
Philadelphia averages 109.1 points per game, ranking No. 21 in the Association in scoring. It allows 105.7 per, and the Sixers have a win-differential of +3.4 points. Joel Embiid is the team leader. He averages 23.4 points, 12.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 2.2 steals/blocks in just 31.1 minutes per game. The signing of Al Horford has helped the Sixers manage the load of Embiid much better.
Horford is averaging the same 30 minutes per game, and he averages 12.3 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.9 steals/blocks per game. The Sixers have Tobias Harris and Josh Richardson starting on the wings, and both are producing, combining to average 34.4 points and 9.8 rebounds per game.
Ben Simmons is certainly a unique point guard, but he has not been without his issues. The 6’9” point-forward is averaging 14.9 points, seven rebounds, and 8.6 assists per game, but the mantra that he “cannot shoot” is not dying any sort of quick death. While Simmons shoots a very fine 56.3 percent from the floor, he is still passing on most jump shots, and he very rarely (0.1 per game) shoots the triple.
It does affect matters. Teams do not respect Simmons’ shooting ability and that makes it easier to double team Embiid and Harris. Until Simmons gains a respectable mid-range jumper and potentially even a three, it is tough to imagine the Sixers making that final step towards true contention. Philadelphia is a good team, but in some senses, it is an easy team to prepare for. While Embiid is extra-worldly, Simmons’ upside is quite mitigated by his errant shooting. It is not much different than the trajectory seen in the career of Rajon Rondo. Either add a respectable jump shot or keep launching uncontested bricks. It is up to Simmons which it is.
CHICAGO NEWS & NOTES:
The Chicago Bulls are 7-13 SU on the road this season and 15-27 overall. The Bulls trail No. 2 Central Division Indiana by 11.5 games, and making the playoffs is already a long shot for the young Bulls team. The season has not been without its bright spots though, and one of the brightest has been the emergence of Zach LaVine into superstardom. LaVine has taken the role of No.1 option seriously, attempting 19.2 field goals per game while connecting on 44 percent from the field and 40 percent on threes (with 8.0 attempts per game).
LaVine averages 24.6 points, 4.6 rebounds, 4.0 assists, and 1.9 blocks/steals and is the only player in All-Star considerations for the Bulls. Lauri Markannen has stagnated somewhat, and Wendell Carter Jr. has only made marginal improvements. Perhaps the second-brightest silver lining for Chicago has been the strong scoring of rookie point guard Coby White.
Many are comparing him to Ben Gordon, a former Bull who was a strong sixth man. White averages 11.3 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.2 assists in his 24 minutes per game. The Bulls still have yet to really settle on which players make up its core identity, but LaVine is the centerpiece of Chicago’s rebuild with several other promising No. 2 options.
The Bulls will still need to add depth and interior defense to make the next steps towards being a legitimate playoff-contending team.
The Bulls have even a promising starting lineup, but so much of it hinges upon supposed potential. Carter Jr. was thought to be in the elite tier of forwards in his draft class, but he has paled in comparison to Jaren Jackson Jr of the Memphis Grizzlies. Overall, the Bulls have LaVine and are just hoping some of the other players come close to panning out in the next few seasons.