The Bulls prepare for Joel Embiid and put in the Sixers
Joel Embiid and the 76ers will look to continue their reckless streak Monday night when the Chicago Bulls visit Philadelphia to open the home-and-home series.
Embiid amassed 31 points, seven assists, seven rebounds and two blocks on Saturday to help the 76ers (48-22) secure their eighth straight win of the season with a 141-121 win over the Indiana Pacers. Those are impressive numbers for the six-time All-Star, who missed the entire final quarter.
Embiid’s performance was so dominant that Pacers coach Rick Carlisle told reporters that he was “probably the best player at what their team does.” Carlisle also added that Embiid is “an NBA cheat code walking around right now. It’s so good.”
It’s hard to argue with Carlisle given that Embiid has at least 30 points in nine straight games as a franchise record.
Still, Embiid wasn’t alone on Saturday. Therese Maxi contributed 31 points and seven assists, Tobias Harris had 24 points and five rebounds, and DeAnthony Melton added 14 points, five boards, five assists and six steals in place of James Harden (recovering from injury).
“I was really happy,” Sixers coach Doc Rivers said. “Everybody contributed. Joel was sometimes our starting point guard. He had maybe 15 assists a game of hockey, which was great. Low quits. You had to do that against a high-scoring team on the road.”
Philadelphia’s winning streak lifted the club within striking distance of the Milwaukee Bucks into first place in the Eastern Conference. The 76ers lead by percentage points over the Boston Celtics (49-23) for second place in the East.
Philadelphia achieves a 26-10 record at home. However, the bulls were rude to their hosts on January 6th.
Zach LaVine sank 11 of 13 attempts from 3-point range to highlight his 41-point performance as Chicago snapped the 76ers’ 11-game winning streak with a 126-112 decision.
Nikola Vucevic posted a triple-double with 19 points, 18 rebounds and 10 assists as the Bulls took advantage of the absence of Embiid, who sat sore in his left foot.
The Bulls (33-37) entered Monday’s game having won four of their last five games; Game 2 home and home with the 76ers will be Wednesday night in Chicago.
DeMar DeRozan followed his season-high 49-point performance in Chicago’s 139-131 double-overtime win against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday with 24 points and 10 assists in a 113-99 win over the Miami Heat on Saturday.
“We haven’t had a lot of moments like that this year, quite frankly. You have to count on it,” Bulls coach Billy Donovan said of his team’s recent winning ways. … “This has been a hard and fast transition. Hopefully we can learn and grow from this and improve as a group.”
LaVine accumulated 18 points and seven assists, Kobe White scored 18 and six, respectively, and Patrick Beverly added 17 points for a balanced offense for Chicago.
“We came to the understanding that that was a must-win,” Beverley said. “We didn’t want to get out in the mud; we wanted to land the first punch, and we did. They responded like any good team, and our first punches were really heavy. That led to the win.”
–Field level of arguments
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