The Philadelphia 76ers have been one of the few teams to have repeated success frustrating Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls.
Last month’s lopsided loss in Philadelphia still bothers the league’s reigning MVP.
Rose and the Bulls look to avenge that defeat and avoid losing a fourth straight to the 76ers on Sunday night at the Wells Fargo Center.
Most sports books monitored by the SportsOptions odds product have installed the Bulls as 4 1/2-point road favorites, with the total set at 180.
Chicago (30-8) owns a one-game lead over Miami atop the Eastern Conference and is 7 1/2 games ahead of Atlantic Division-leading Philadelphia (22-15). The Bulls, however, have lost three straight to the Sixers, their longest active skid against any team.
Philadelphia, which leads the league in scoring defense at 87.0 points – just ahead of Chicago’s 88.2 – has excelled at getting the Bulls out of their rhythm. Chicago has averaged 88.7 points and shot 26.8 percent from 3-point range in the last three defeats, with Rose averaging 6.0 turnovers.
In this season’s first meeting Feb. 1, Chicago trailed by five at halftime before being outscored 26-11 in the third quarter en route to a 98-82 loss. The Sixers forced 17 turnovers leading to 29 points, and Rose (18) and C.J. Watson (20) were the only Bulls to score in double figures.
“We’re kind of mad with the way that they smacked us last time at their place,” Rose said after Friday’s 112-91 win at Cleveland.
One advantage Chicago could have in the rematch is the presence of Luol Deng.
The first-time All-Star, who missed last month’s meeting with a sprained left wrist, had a season-high 24 points on 9-of-14 shooting Friday. Rose had 19 points and nine assists in 28 minutes for the Bulls, who shot 52.8 percent and made 10 of 20 3-pointers.
Friday’s victory was Chicago’s fifth straight and 12th in 14 games since the loss in Philadelphia.
“Our guys’ attitude has been great all season,” coach Tom Thibodeau said. “In this league, you get in trouble if you feel good about a win you had in the last game or you look ahead to another opponent. That’s when you get hurt. You have to concentrate on what’s in front of you. Being ready is the big thing.”
While the Bulls have regrouped since losing to the 76ers, Philadelphia hasn’t enjoyed much success lately.
The win over Chicago gave the Sixers 12 victories in 14 home games, but they’re 2-5 at the Wells Fargo Center since. They snapped a four-game home skid with Friday’s 105-83 victory over Golden State, just their second victory in eight games overall.
Lou Williams matched a season high with 25 points to help Philadelphia reach the century mark for the first time in 20 games.
“We weren’t playing like a team that lost a few home games in a row,” Elton Brand said. “We were playing like, hey, we can turn it off and turn it on any time we want. We know we can’t. We’ve lost some really tight games.”
Brand had 14 points and 14 rebounds Friday, while Andre Iguodala finished with 12 points and 11 boards. The Sixers outrebounded Golden State 51-39 and will likely need another effort like that on the glass against the Bulls, who are second in the league in rebounding at 45.6 per game.
Philadelphia had a 43-37 advantage on the boards in the first meeting with Chicago, which is 5-5 when it gets outrebounded. The Bulls are 24-2 when outrebounding their opponent.
The Sixers had five players finish with at least 14 points against Chicago last month, with Iguodala and Thaddeus Young each scoring 19.