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Can The Sixers Beat the Bulls Twice?

Mar 4, 2012, 4:55 PM EDT

The Philadelphia 76ers managed an impressive win against the Chicago Bulls in February, but can they pull the upset a second time?

When the Philadelphia 76ers emerged victorious over the Chicago Bulls by
a convincing 98-82 margin back at the beginning of February, it was
(and remains) the biggest win of the season for the Sixers, that
long-overdue “statement win” against an elite team that proved that
Philly deserved to be taken seriously in the Eastern Conference. Great
as that win was, the Sixers’ play since—going 6-9, with only two wins
over plus-.500 teams—makes it look less like a statement and more like a
fluke, especially considering that the Bulls were missing two starters
at the time.

Meanwhile, while the Sixers have wilted since their big W, the Bulls
have kicked into another gear since the loss, going 12-2 in their 14
games since. Perhaps more importantly, they finally have their full
starting lineup (as well as their entire second unit) healthy and
gelling together, and currently sit at 30-8 for the season, the best
record in the NBA. If the Sixers won tonight, it might not quite be the
“statement” the first win was, but it would almost certainly be the more
impressive, harder-fought win—and lord knows the Ballers could use it.

 
Of course, as in the teams’ first meeting, the Sixers will have to do so
without Spencer Hawes. No excuses in this lockout-shortened,
injury-heavy season, but man would it be nice to have our big man back
tonight—the Bulls weren’t able to use size to much advantage in game
one, but with the Bulls’ starting wings back to put pressure on the
team’s perimeter defenders, you have to think that the interior is gonna
be vulnerable with Lavoy Allen, Nik Vucevic and Elton Brand
constituting the team’s last line of defense. (In fact, if we ended up
seeing a healthy dose of Tony Battie tonight, I wouldn’t be surprised.)

7:00 tip from the Wells Fargo Center. Our second national telecast in a
row tonight, with Dan Shulman and Doris Burke on the call tonight for
ESPN. The Sixers have certainly earned these nationally televised games,
but they have to win a bunch of ‘em—against tougher, less sentimental
competition than the Golden State Warriors—to keep ‘em. Go Sixers.