76ers Host Chicago

by Lauren Rosen

The 76ers (19-10) continue to lead the Eastern Conference, and continue to hold the best home record in the East too.

Friday, the Sixers have a chance to extend their 1.0 game lead over the No. 2 Brooklyn Nets (19-12), and their 3.0 game lead over the No. 3 Milwaukee Bucks (16-13), as they host the Chicago Bulls (12-15) at The Center.

Friday’s matchup marks the first meeting between the Sixers and Bulls this season. The Sixers will seek their second straight win following three narrow road losses on the West Coast.

In Wednesday’s meeting with the Houston Rockets (11-17), the Sixers started strong, with one of their best first halves of the season thus far, taking a 69-43 advantage into the break.

The team was shorthanded, missing Ben Simmons (illness) and Shake Milton (ankle sprain), but still managed to shoot 57.8% from the field and 61.1% from deep in the first two quarters.

The Rockets caught up in the second half, but the Sixers managed to hold it down, notching a 118-113 victory.

Joel Embiid, Tobias Harris, Seth Curry, and Danny Green all finished in double-figures, as Matisse Thybulle stepped in for Simmons to complete the starting five. Thybulle grabbed a game-high four steals, and converted on both of his attempts from the field.

From another look at zone defense to sharing ball-handling responsibilities, the Sixers capitalized on the chance to experiment with new looks in the first half.

Embiid (31 pts, 11 reb, 9 ast, 2 stl, 1 blk) praised Thybulle’s defensive contributions, as the second-year player led the team through its zone coverage:

“When you’ve got Matisse in the game, I feel like [zone is] our best defense. He gets his hands on everything. I feel like he has the potential to be the best defender in the league.”

While Curry (25 pts, 2 reb, 5 ast, 2 stl) assumed a primary ball-handling role early, minutes without Curry led to some ‘point-forward’ opportunities for Harris (24 pts, 15 reb, 5 ast, 1 stl, 2 blk).

“It felt good, my natural position,” Harris joked postgame. “I thought we did a good job of hunting some threes at the beginning of the game. We’re going to continue to progress in that area, and for me, it was a chance to have the ball in my hands a little bit in the frontcourt, and see what that could bring for the team.”

Friday’s matchup tips at 7:30 p.m. ET.

Opponent Outlook:

The 12-15 Bulls visit the Sixers on a two-game winning streak, topping the Pistons, 105-102 Wednesday in Chicago, and notching a 120-112 overtime victory against the Pacers Monday in Indianapolis.

Zach LaVine leads the Bulls in scoring, averaging 28.5 points per game, plus 5.5 rebounds and 5.2 assists per game.

The Bulls hold the No. 9 spot in the East, half a game behind the No. 8 Hornets.

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