Bulls rain threes to end Sixers’ 11-game winning streak at home: Likes and dislikes

Sixers Bulls; photo by Austin Krell/TPL

The Sixers (23-14) hosted the Chicago Bulls (17-21) on Friday. Philadelphia appeared to win its fourth game in a row. Chicago looked to build on Wednesday’s victory over the Nets. Zach LaVine hit 11 threes en route to 41 points as the Bulls snapped the Sixers’ 11-game winning streak at home, 126–112.

Before we get to what I saw, some notes.

Contextual comments

The Bulls were without the services of Lonzo Ball, who continues to recover from surgery on his left knee.

Alex Caruso missed the game with a sprained right ankle.

Javonte Green was out with a sore right knee. Tony Bradley has a non-Covid illness and was unavailable.

Marko Simonovic has a G-League assignment with the Windy City Bulls and was unavailable. Carlik Jones has a Two-Way G-League assignment with the Windy City Bulls and was out.

Billy Donovan started Ayo Dosunmu, LaVine, DeMar DeRozan, Patrick Williams and Nikola Vucevic.

The Sixers were without the services of Joel Embiid, who missed his second straight game with a sore left foot.

Jaden Springer is on a G-League assignment with the Delaware Blue Coats and was unavailable. Louis King and Julian Champagnie are on Two-Way G-League assignments with the Blue Coats and were out.

Doc Rivers started James Harden, Tyrese Maxey, De’Anthony Melton, Tobias Harris and PJ Tucker.


The Sixers seized control of this one early on and went on the run when Chicago missed shots. Philadelphia also took advantage of sloppy ball handling by the Bulls and devised poke-aways in the lanes to allow Chicago to kick back as they backtracked in transition. The Bulls were very flat on offense in the first quarter and switched, and the Sixers took advantage of an early lead.

Montrezl Harrell didn’t make the defensive plays he made against the Pacers, but another really nice offensive play from him. In his first stint of the game, he picked up a loose ball around the rim and quickly got up for a dunk. He looked Andre Drummond straight in the face before pulling a basic jersey over his counterpart. Harrell then quickly beat Chicago to an offensive rebound on his own missed jumper and put the ball in for a second chance. His second half saw some nice catches rolling to the basket and some thunderous dunks. It was a very ugly start to the season for Harrell. But about halfway through the campaign, he begins to turn in strong play.

The only other good thing that came out of this was Maxey. He has looked increasingly better in each of the last three games since his return. But on Friday he broke up. He got his legs under him and knocked over sweaters from all over the floor. More promising than that, his outburst seemed to be back. He attacked the space and made his way to the cup throughout the game. Maxey even made a handful of swing passes to the weak side of the floor after drawing extra attention with his drives. He looked just as he did before his injury, which was a welcome sign for the Sixers on an otherwise bleak night in South Philly.


Philadelphia consumed a heavy diet of transition violations in the first quarter. But there were a handful of possessions where you watched Harden eat away at the shot clock with exaggerated dribbling. Sixers milled around him, too, as Harden tossed through screeners to pull the switch he wanted. Credit Chicago for very well denying his attempts to ride the paint and get things going. But by the time he made his move, there were less than 10 seconds on the shot clock. So barely enough time to create something good.

Those possessions ended when Harden attempted to score himself. Unfortunately, an 0-for-7 first quarter for The Beard. He still had five rebounds and five assists (against only one turnover), so not entirely detrimental first quarter. But the Sixers could have benefited more from Chicago’s sputtering offense had Harden just decided to go off the ball when it was clear he wasn’t getting the look he wanted. Philadelphia was successful on offense without Embiid against a surprising Pacers team as they picked up the pace and moved the ball. The Sixers really got rid of that in the first minutes of this game.

Harden led the Sixers’ downfall in his second stint of the game. Chicago began taking away catch-and-shoot threes, forcing the Sixers to drive more and attack closeouts. As they watched the engine powering their charge, Harden was handcuffed to Williams, who refused to let go of him. Harden really struggled to find the driving force against Williams, who has the size and muscle mass to slow him down in his post-prime state. Even as Harden got around him and tried to get to the edge, Chicago came together. He missed nine of his ten shots in the first half and Vucevic was there to get the rebounds back.

Simply put, the Sixers looked en route to a great win in the first few minutes of the second quarter. Then, Chicago took away catch-and-shoot threes, making it difficult for Harden to see anything happen for his teammates at the rim. When he tried to get Chicago into rotation, Williams shut him down. And the Philadelphia offense ran like clockwork. A 13-point lead narrowed to a four-point deficit at halftime.

If Tucker isn’t even about to shoot, you might as well give Matisse Thybulle a good run in this game. If nothing else, he could theoretically stick with one of the opposition’s elite attacking players on the wings. Chicago was a perfect example of that, especially since Embiid wasn’t there to help fall or play higher in pick-and-roll coverage. Rivers eventually rolled with Thybulle, but that didn’t happen until the second half. Chicago had already established a rhythm and changed the tenor of the game.

For the Tucker part of this, if you’re going to five-out with him as your little ball center, he can’t get away with not shooting the ball. Otherwise, it’s 4-on-5, with the veteran junkyard dog catching the ball and immediately facing DHO with the nearest teammate. You end up running in circles offensively. The opponent’s defense doesn’t have to do much. I’m not saying he should take 10 shots. But if they don’t play when teammates kick the ball his way, the shot should go up.

Now back to Thybulle. I wouldn’t say he helped much, even when he got his chance in the second half, although LaVine was a ticking time bomb anyway. But Thybulle bet on a double shift on Vucevic on the post. Vucevic just had to throw the ball back to LaVine when he fed his big man to give the star guard an open three. Sure, Vucevic used Thybulle’s gamble against him, creating an open triple for his teammate. Furthermore, in the second half, LaVine had no problem dusting Thybulle off the dribble on a number of possessions. I will say he is faster up close than he looks on television. But Thybulle needs to consistently stay ahead of offensive players if he’s going to be a non-factor once the Sixers have possession of the basketball.

It was one of many for LaVine in this game. He was just plain ridiculous, but giving him a wide-eyed look in the middle of a stove was a particularly unpleasant decision that only threw gasoline on the fire. From there, every time he touched the ball, he saw an ocean. I thought Philadelphia was too late to contest some of his three off the catch, but he just went absolutely nuclear. Even those who were well defended didn’t matter. He exploded on Philadelphia to the tune of 11 triples.

The Sixers attempted to respond by trapping LaVine when the ball was in his hands. But he made the right play almost every time. He found the release valve teammate in the middle of the floor or stopped his gunners. I thought the Sixers not involved in the traps did a pretty bad job of finding mutual aid on the weak side of the floor.

The Bulls were one or two paces from naked threes at the back of the floor throughout the second half. All Chicago had to do was make swing passes. Philadelphia shadowed too far for the ball and was much too late in restoring the North-South ball movement. Chicago shot 20-for-34 from deep. There’s some bad luck for Philadelphia in there, but the Sixers lost gunners all night.

The Sixers (23-15) will visit the Detroit Pistons (11-30) on Sunday. The tip is set at 3:00 PM Eastern Time. You can catch the action on NBC Sports Philadelphia.

#Bulls #rain #threes #Sixers #11game #winning #streak #home #Likes #dislikes

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button

Adblock Detected

Please consider supporting us by disabling your ad blocker