Lynam: 'The Sixers ran into an angry Heat team'
The Bulls are 1-8 when an opponents scores 100+ points. The Sixers average 102 per game. (USA Today Images)
Looking at the Bulls' starting five, there is no longer that feeling of intimidation. Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer remain, but Derrick Rose is again out of the mix with a lingering knee injury and Luol Deng is a Cleveland Cavalier after being traded 10 days ago.
That said, the Sixers are a 13-win team, so challenges always stand in the way of victories.
Here is how I see the game in 3-Dei:
1. The starting point guard matchup has to be won by Michael Carter-Williams. His opposition is Kirk Hinrich who, Friday night in Washington, led the Bulls in scoring with 18 points. Chicago still lost, 96-93.
Hinrich’s 18 points set his season high. He averages just 8.2 points on the year, which was an indication that John Wall was fixated on the offensive end. Wall scored 23 points and handed out 11 assists but he had no interest in slowing down the Bulls' playmaker.
MCW has two inches on Hinrich and is 11 years younger. He needs to keep Hinrich in front of him and not allow Hinrich to play above his abilities, which Friday night would have left the Bulls with 83 points instead of 93.
MCW is coming off his poorest performance of the season Friday, when he tied his season low with seven points. His lone made field goal was also a low and his five turnovers were two shy of his season high.
Carter-Williams will be looking to redeem himself from Friday night.
2. Taking care of the ball is essential for Brett Brown’s team. The Sixers average an NBA-high 17.4 turnovers per game. Friday night against the Heat, they committed 23 turnovers which led to 25 points. However, Miami is the league's No. 1 team in forcing turnovers, while the Bulls rank in the lowest third.
The Sixers have turned the ball over 20 or more times in 11 games and have won just three of them. They cannot afford to give the Bulls an advantage that Chicago otherwise wouldn't have.
3. If I could write in Brown’s accent, "We are the No. 1 team in pace,” it would sound so much more entertaining. But accent or not, the Sixers can -- and have to -- get up and down the floor.
The Bulls allow the second-fewest points in the league at 93 per game. The Sixers average 102. Chicago is 1-8 against teams that score 100 points, and the Sixers have just two wins when they don't score 100.
In short: The Sixers need to be the pacemakers.