Philadelphia 76ers: Why Philly Is in the Driver's Seat Against Chicago Bulls
Ladies and gentlemen, we have ourselves a series.
In Game 2 of their first-round matchup against the Chicago Bulls, the Philadelphia 76ers didn't just cruise to a 109-92 victory, but they firmly embraced the challenge of upsetting the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference.
On Tuesday, the duo of Jrue Holiday and Evan Turner teased us with glimpses of their potential. Andre Iguodala tormented Bulls forward Luol Deng into a 3-for-12 shooting performance. Even the Sixers' second unit—affectionately referred to as the "Night Shift"—got in on the action, chipping in 39 points and 16 rebounds.
Unless you happen to be a Bulls fan, it was a beautiful thing to behold.
And if you do happen to be a Bulls fan, a bit of concern about your team's short-term prospects should have crept into your head by the time the final buzzer sounded. Nearly everyone who watched Game 2 likely came to the exact same conclusion: There's no reason why the Sixers can't do it again.
And again. And again.
Of course, there are always the doubters, naysayers and non-believers. A fair amount of historical evidence is on their side, however, as Chicago is 18-10 with Derrick Rose out of the lineup this year.
It should also be noted that Philadelphia's Game 2 win was due in large part to the team's scorching hot shooting effort (59 percent from the floor) combined with a 25-to-8 disparity in fast-break points.
But why can't Holiday and Turner combine for 40-plus points again against C.J. Watson and Rip Hamilton? Even at this stage in their careers, the Sixers backcourt of the future is more talented than the starting tandem for the Bulls. Furthermore, Philadelphia's advantage only increases in crunch time since Kyle Korver is Chicago's de facto shooting guard in the fourth quarter.
What exactly is preventing Iguodala from harassing Deng on every Bulls possession? Including the playoffs, Deng has played against the Sixers four times this season. Only once—Game 1 of this series—has he scored more than eight points.
Chicago's youth would typically be to its advantage, especially after a compressed regular season such as the one we all just endured. Yet Philadelphia only has one rotation player—Elton Brand—who is over the age of 28.
Game 2 victory aside, this same 76ers team defeated the Bulls—who had a healthy Rose at the time—98-82 back on February 1. The contest was such a rout that Rose didn't even play the final 12 minutes.
Even with the reigning MVP at point guard in Game 1 of the current seven-game set, Chicago didn't put Philadelphia away until the final minutes of the fourth quarter.
With the next two games at home—in a building full of supporters who are just a win or two away from becoming believers—Philadelphia could put its foot on the gas pedal and all but close this series out.
The checkered flag is still quite a few laps away, but the 76ers are clearly in the driver's seat just as the race is starting to get interesting.
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