Keys to the Game: Bulls vs 76ers (01.17.20)
Remind Me Later •
The Chicago Bulls visit the City of Brotherly Love to take on the Philadelphia 76ers in the first of three get-togethers this season. The teams will hook up again on February 9th in Philly before closing the book on the series in Chicago at the United Center on March 26th.
The Sixers come in tonight looking to capture its 20th home win in 22 tries while Chicago hopes to post its second win in a row after beating Washington, 115-106, at the UC on Wednesday.
The Chicago victory proved costly, however, as the Bulls suffered another bad injury to a key rotational player. In just his fourth start, rookie pivot Daniel Gafford dislocated his right thumb on a steal early in the opening quarter and was lost the rest of the night. X-rays of the injured digit were negative; however, the team announced he'll be out of action for the next two-to-four weeks. Prior to getting hurt the 6'11 big man had been making a strong impression stepping in for regular starter, Wendell Carter Jr., who badly sprained an ankle a little over a week ago and won't return until sometime around the All-Star break next month. With both Carter Jr. and Gafford sidelined for the time being, the Bulls will be looking for Luke Kornet and veteran center Cristiano Felicio to hold down the middle until they return.
Another important player for Chicago, Otto Porter Jr., is also sidelined due to a fractured foot suffered in early November. Porter Jr. has missed the Bulls last 33 games, and there doesn't seem to be an end in sight.
As for keys to winning this evening's game, Chicago is going to need to produce a blue-collar effort at both ends of the floor.
Offensively to be successful, the Bulls must play unselfishly, openly sharing the ball with one another, freely skipping it from player-to-player and from side-to-side, while at the same time looking to exploit every opportunity to attack the front of the rim.
All five Bulls on the floor must stay involved in the action at both ends of the floor. Offensively the ball can't get stuck in any one player's hands. The offense can't turn into a series of isolation, one-on-one challenges.
Defensively, Chicago must produce a rough and tumble effort with everyone staying close to their assigned man, making it difficult for him to create space or maneuver freely about. Collectively, the Bulls must fight for every rebound, loose ball, and outhustle and outexecute Philadelphia in every way possible.