From the first two possessions of the game, it was clear the Bulls were going to be in for a tough night.
On the first play down, PJ Tucker corralled an offensive rebound and found De’Anthony Melton for a three. Immediately following the make, Tyrese Maxey picked up full court and stole a lazy inbounds pass from Patrick Williams and found Tobias Harris for a layup.
This game was over after 35 seconds.
From there, the 76ers continued to brutalize the Bulls for what they did to them Monday night in Philly. Going up 17-0 and ultimately building a lead as large as 22 in the first quarter alone (31 on the game). The Bulls had no response.
After 47 and a half more embarrassing minutes, the 76ers win 116-91, a humbling defeat after a promising post-All-Star stretch.
Because of three-point disadvantage, the margin for error is zero. The Bulls absolutely need to win the free throw attempt battle, the scoring efficiency battle, the turnover battle and finish plays with defense rebounds.
They didn’t do any of those things.
FYI, Blue is bad. It’s rare to see a single-digit percentile in any category, let alone three of them.
From the start of the game, the 76ers picked up full court which delayed the Bulls from getting into their sets. From there, they collapsed in the middle of the floor and dared the Bulls to shoot.
“From full court, beginning with that,” LaVine said. “They set the tone, and obviously, when I got to the paint, DeMar, anybody, they were shutting that all the way off, bringing over two or three guys.”
Because the Bulls couldn’t get all the way to the rim, they weren’t able to force help. Since they weren’t able to force help, they rarely had any opportunities to attack closeouts and create the next advantage, something the team has preached over recent weeks.
By the time you’re in a 17-1 or 23-2 deficit, it’s hard to come back.
“We were constantly playing catch up,” Billy Donovan said. “They were quicker, sharper, just better all the way around…We kind of got up against it where we didn’t really generate a lot on offense to match them the way they were scoring.”
During their 8-game winning streak leading up to Monday’s game, the 76ers were on an absolute tear offensively, leading the league with a 131.5 offensive rating.
They went completely cold against the Bulls and finished with a 96.3 offensive rating.
Shooting 48.1 percent from the field, making 16-of-37 threes, one might say the 76ers got their swagger back.
Law of averages is a hell of a drug.
They weren’t just bombing threes and making everything in sight. The 76ers tactically picked apart the defense and exploited the areas in which the Bulls are vulnerable.
“I didn’t think from a rotation standpoint, we were as good or as on point as we were in Philly,” Donovan said. “Some of where we were doubling and trapping, we were not as sharp or crisp and we got put in some tough situations.”
With the way the 76ers were exploiting matchups, the Bulls needed to be much more proactive getting themselves out of schemes that the 76ers were exploiting. They didn’t adjust their switching coverage which got them in trouble against Tobias Harris post ups. They didn’t recover well enough when they did collapse onto Joel Embiid or Harris in the post.
All in all, it was about as bad of a performance as the Bulls were capable of. So much so, that you just wash your mouth of it and move forward.
“They did a good job, man. You can’t do anything but tip your hat. It’s like man, you got your ass whooped, move on to the next one.”
Bizarre injury notes
DeMar DeRozan left the game in the X quarter, removing his jersey on his way to the locker room. Bulls PR quickly confirmed that his was leaving due to a right quad strain — the same one that caused him to miss games earlier this season.
Joel Embiid didn’t come to the court during the second half or even appear on the 76ers bench. There was message from 76ers PR, until late in the third quarter when the sideline reporter said he was resting due to the score of the game.
Play in Race: Heat win, Hawks lose, Raptors lose, Wizards lose, Pacers win. Bulls remain in 10th place with a 1.5 game cushion over 11th, but move further away from a chance at the 8th seed.
Up Next: Bulls head to Portland to start a three-game West Coast road trip.
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