Sixers-Bulls: 5 things you need to know

sixers-bulls-matchup.jpg

Sixers-Bulls: 5 things you need to know

The Sixers (15-52) return home to face the Chicago Bulls (37-30) on Wednesday night after setting the franchise record with 21 consecutive losses.

Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. (CSN) at the Wells Fargo Center.

Let's take a closer look at the matchup:

1. A game of 21
Now what?

The Sixers suffered a 99-90 loss to the Eastern Conference-leading Indiana Pacers on Monday to set the franchise mark for consecutive defeats with 21. They surpassed the previous record of 20 straight losses set by the 1972-73 squad.

Next on the club's docket could be the NBA record for losses in a row at home. The Sixers have already dropped a franchise-worst 16 straight at the Wells Fargo Center and are creeping up on the league record of 19 set by the 1993-94 Dallas Mavericks.

The Sixers could take that next false step against a tough Bulls squad on Wednesday. Despite splitting their last eight games overall, the Bulls trampled the Sixers by 25 points the last time the two teams met on Jan. 18.

2. No Joakim around
Joakim Noah enjoys dominating the Sixers.

Whether it's because a few Philadelphia fans cheered when he got injured during a playoff series a couple years back or because he simply knows he can take advantage of a weak frontcourt, Noah takes pleasure in torturing the Sixers.

In two games against the Sixers this season, Noah is averaging 15.5 points, 12.5 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 2.5 blocks and 2.0 steals. Overall, the center has scored at least 21 points in three of his last four games against them.

Henry Sims has proven to be a capable defender in the paint, but a motivated Noah might be too much to handle.

3. Downright offensive
The Sixers have struggled to score during their losing skid and it won't get any easier against the gritty Bulls.

Anchored by Defensive Player of the Year candidate Noah, the Bulls are second in the NBA in points allowed with 92.3 a game. They are also second in opponents' shooting percentage at 43.1.

The Sixers' once high-octane offense has sputtered during the team's 21-game skid. They are averaging 95.0 points over that stretch. Plus, the Sixers rank 27th in field goal percentage (43.1) and 30th in three-point percentage (30.7) this season.

All of that should add up to the Sixers' having a difficult time finding the bottom of the net on Wednesday night.

4. Injuries
James Anderson (thigh) missed the Sixers' game against the Pacers and is day to day.

Nerlens Noel (knee) and Jason Richardson (knee) are out for the Sixers.

Tornike Shengelia (flu) is day to day.

Derrick Rose (knee) remains out for the season.

5. This and that
• The Sixers have not won since beating the Boston Celtics on Jan. 29.

• The Sixers have averaged just 90.3 points in their last four home games.

• Chicago finished its recent six-game homestand with a 3-3 mark and now hits the road, where it's 16-17 this season.

• The Bulls shot 48.8 percent in their last game against the Sixers.

• One of the Sixers' eight home wins this season came over the Bulls on Nov. 2.

Dario Saric halts slump with 'best game as a 76er'

Dario Saric halts slump with 'best game as a 76er'

Dario Saric came into the NBA knowing his rookie season would be one of ups and downs. He would have successes based on his talent and struggle because of the newness of the league and matchups.

Saturday’s performance against the Celtics was one of those highlight nights. Saric scored 21 points and grabbed 12 rebounds, both tying career-highs, for his third double-double. He was efficient in his performance, playing 27 minutes off the bench in the Sixers' 107-106 loss.

“I thought that was his best game as a 76er,” Brett Brown said.

Saric had struggled the night before against the Magic. He barely made a dent in 16 minutes, posting just two points (1 for 5 from the field) without a single rebound. The poor showing was on his mind Saturday, as he got ready for the second game of the back-to-back. He went in early to get up extra shots, met with coaches, studied film and thought about the matchup throughout the day.

“I prepared a little bit more for this game,” Saric said. “After I have some bad rhythm of five or six, maybe, games. Now I concentrate more. I try to give my best, try to play my best, try to think before everything happens.”

Saric showed his aggressiveness in crunch time in the fourth quarter, when he scored seven points and five rebounds in eight minutes. He nailed a three to cut the Celtics' lead to 92-91 with 4:28 to play. Then with 1:09 remaining, Saric’s free throws cut the Celtics' lead to two points. On the other end of the court, he snagged the rebound off an Isaiah Thomas miss and scored a game-tying layup from Jahlil Okafor.  

“He played great,” Okafor said. “He’s working hard every day, getting used to the NBA process. It was good to see hard work paying off for him.”

Saric has been adjusting to new roles throughout the season. He was thrown into the starting power forward spot when Ben Simmons was injured, and then moved to the bench when the team acquired Ersan Ilyasova. On Saturday, Brown also played Saric at small forward in Robert Covington’s (knee) absence, a shift the Sixers may try again.

“He’s a good teammate,” Brown said. “He’s biding his time. He understands he’s a rookie. Incrementally, he’ll be given these opportunities. Tonight he did and he responded and you’re seeing continued growth.”

Saric still is early in his NBA career, and Saturday's showing was a game he can look back on and study for the rest of the season. 

“I feel like tonight … you’d walk away and say, ‘Shoot, that’s a hell of a player for playing 20 games in the NBA and he did what he just did against a hell of a team,’” Brown said. “I’m proud of what we saw all over the place from Dario.”

Sixers' '66-'67 team reflects on success of 'best team ever'

Sixers' '66-'67 team reflects on success of 'best team ever'

As part of their “Salute Saturday” series, the Sixers honored the 1966-67 championship team at halftime of their 107-106 loss the Celtics on Saturday.

Fifty years after winning the title, the success of the squad (which went 68-13 in the regular season) still resonates with those representing the Sixers today. After all, they are the group Wilt Chamberlain described as “the best team ever.” 

“It’s just part of the history of this city and the organization,” said Brett Brown, who has established a relationship with Billy Cunningham through practice visits and emails. “There was a toughness with that team that he personified and the city sort of reflects. It’s stuff you hear me talk about all the time how you want our team to reflect the spirit of the city. That team did it.”

Prior to their tribute ceremony, members of the team reflected on their run in which they beat the San Francisco Warriors for the title. 

On Wilt Chamberlain
“Wilt was such a dominant figure, not only as a basketball player, but he’s almost bigger than the game,” Matt Goukas said. “He played so well, he was such a good team player – he started really passing the ball right around that time --and that enabled great scorers like Hal (Greer) and Billy and Chet Walker to do their thing, and Wilt was very happy to give them that leeway.”.

On fond memories
“It was a team that we played well together and we lived as a family and that’s what made it so good for us," Greer said. "A lot of fun, a lot of fun. We missed the next year, but 68-13 is not bad at all.”

“It’s hard to forget a situation like that where we had such a terrific team and the season went so quickly, we won so many games and then of course winning a championship,” Goukas said. “As a first year player I said, ‘This is the way it’s supposed to be, I guess.’ But of course I never won another championship as a player, but we had such a terrific group of guys and true professionals that for me as a rookie, Billy Melchionni as a rookie, we really benefited from guys like Hal Greer, Wally Jones and Harry Costello, they really showed us the way.”

On team chemistry
“It was very difficult times when you look at the sixties from a social aspect,” Cunningham said. “Martin Luther King was killed the following year we won the championship. Race relationships weren’t the best. And this time, which was just about half black-half white, I’m not even sure, it was never an issue. That’s the beauty I think of being on a team you know getting to know people, you judge them as an individual and nothing more than that.”

“I think it was our coach Alex Hannum, for one (that kept the team together),” Greer said. “And of course the big guy. He held us together most of the time, he could rebound, play defense, do it all.”