The 76ers will again take on the Chicago Bulls at 8:00 EST tonight on TNT. Here’s 5 things to watch for:
1. Fast break points and pace
I highlighted the differences between the Bulls with Derrick Rose and without him. Essentially, their defense remains top-notch and actually performed a tick better, but their offense suffers mightily. The biggest difference in scoring for and against numbers is pace, or how many possessions each team gets in a game. If the pace gets too slow, the Sixers won’t have too many chances for easy points. Look to see if the Sixers can get off to a fast start, both in the scoring column and on the fast break. If they do, they won’t have to scrap and claw for offense.
2. Iguodala, looking like an all-star
Andre Iguodala struggled mightily in game 1. He needs to do better for us to have a chance. It wasn’t anything that Luol Deng did that stopped him, either – he literally just took every bad shot possible, plus he failed to play at a high level on the defensive end of the floor. I’m not sure what else to say: he HAS to improve.
3. Defending Korver and Hamilton
I mentioned it on the Inside the Bulls Eye Podcast (on Pippen Ain’t Easy – our Chicago Bulls site), but I’ll repeat it here: the Bulls and Sixers came out of the second half nearly even. Granted, the Bulls (and Sixers, for that matter) could have hit more shots, but the second half was played close. The difference in the game was a fast start, primarily led by Rip Hamilton. Hamilton scored 9 early points, offsetting Derrick Rose’s early struggles. Kyle Korver provided the same punch in the second and fourth quarters, both with his scoring and his passing.
Without Rose, Korver and Hamilton will likely become the primary facilitators of offense for the Bulls. Thus, it’s important that we curb our defense to stopping the Bulls’ curling sets. Jrue Holiday will be tasked with defending Hamilton in game 2, and I think he can do a solid job on defense.
4. What can Turner do for you (us)?
There are some that believe Evan Turner starting should have been a thing from the beginning of this series. There are others who see the stats with Turner starting and his overall plus/minus and see him as the weak link in our lineup. Who is right?
Regardless of the answer to this question, the fact remains that Turner will, in all likelihood, get the game 2 start. He played well enough in game 1, and Jodie Meeks played poorly enough, to justify the decision for now. I’d also like to add that much of the lineup problems involving Turner include both Jrue Holiday and Spencer Hawes, as well. In lineups with Turner, Holiday, and Hawes together, the Sixers flat-out suck. One or the other with Turner is okay, though, so the starting five doesn’t have this toxic combination. Lineups with Turner can be found here. Note the top lineup is a good idea and a satisfactory starting five, in my opinion. It’s also been the one Turner has been used in most often.
5. Crashing the glass/Defending the Glass
Chicago far and away led the NBA in offensive rebounding this season. Without Derrick Rose, the Bulls will shoot a lower percentage, thus more rebounds are available. The goal for the Sixers will be to grab as many defensive rebounds as possible. The goal for the Bulls will be to grab as many offensive rebounds as possible.
When the Sixers and Bulls played each other while Rose was sitting out, the Bulls grabbed 17 of their own misses, while the Sixers had just 30 defensive rebounds. That just won’t work in tonight’s game if the Sixers want to win. Expect a lot of activity from Joakim Noah on this end, as he grabbed 5 in the prior meeting, 4 on Saturday, and will have plenty of chances to get more tonight.