Bulls vs. 76ers NBA Preview and Best Bet for Monday

James Harden #1 of the Philadelphia 76ers. Adam Hunger/Getty Images/AFP

It has been a tough stretch for Chicago, who has lost four in a row and starts the day behind Milwaukee in the Central Division. It doesn’t figure to get easier in the City of Brotherly Love, where love might be hard to come by.

Chicago is in the midst of its second four-game losing streak and like the first one, the Bulls have run up against the stronger competition and struggled mightily to come away with victories. The Bulls will look to turn things around as they are slipping in the standings.

Philadelphia didn’t play James Harden on the back end of playing consecutive nights Saturday and was mauled by Miami 99-82. Harden’s hamstring is still considered tender and the 76ers took a risk that he will hold up for the postseason and that is far from a sure thing. Regardless, what we want to know is how the Sixers will do tonight.

The betting odds at FanDuel have Philadelphia as a 6.5-point favorite, with a total of 230. Can Chicago pull off the upset or is there something better to look for?

Chicago Bulls vs. Philadelphia 76ers

Monday, March 7, 2022 – 7:00 PM EST Wells Fargo Center

Chicago Has to Play Better Defensively to Compete With the Elite

As we mentioned here last week on these same pages, Chicago has not played well against the current Top 4 teams in each conference and comes into this matchup 1-12 SU and 3-10 ATS. So despite a 39-25 record (36-28 ATS), the Bulls have to figure out how to solve their problems against the NBA’s finest.

Specifically, coach Billy Donovan has to somehow solve defensive concerns that are real. How that happens is anyone’s guess because Chicago is 23rd in shooting percentage defense and 25th in three-point percentage defense.

Against the weaker competition, Chicago can outscore their opponents, because they don’t execute as well on defense. However, when the opposing team can exploit the Bulls’ defense and find good looks be it inside or outside, Donovan’s squad is attempting to match points, not control the pace of play.

Against Philadelphia, if they allow Harden to run the 76ers offense with minimum resistance, The Beard will have a dozen assists and 20+ points and Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey will knock down shots all night long.

Sixers Ready to Move on From Ugly Setback

Coach Doc Rivers and his players are never going to make excuses because just like every team, they have to play 82 times, and not every situation will be ideal. Philadelphia (39-24, 31-32 ATS) had a big come-from-behind win against New York Wednesday, had another max-effort victory versus Cleveland Friday and without Harden and tired legs, they were no match for Miami. In the NBA, this is referred to as a “scheduling loss”.

With a day off and playing at home, Philadelphia should be rejuvenated and playing an opponent that has defensive concerns. The 76ers should feel good especially if their Top 10 defense can contain the Chicago backcourt duo of DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine.

In the three previous meetings this season, Philly is 3-0 SU and ATS, and where they dominated is behind the arc. The Sixers have made 12,13 and 12 three-points for a total of 37 while holding Chicago to just 20 total, which is a difference of 51 points.

Prediction

The sportsbooks made a tough number on the side because Chicago should cover the spread, but with their shoddy defense, Philadelphia could run roughshod over them.

Instead, for NBA picks, we’ll shift our attention to the total and the first thing that comes to mind is Philadelphia is 18-8 ‘under’ versus good shooting teams making 46% or more of their shots this season.

Next up is a system that has been outstanding all year, which reads this way: When the total is 220 or higher and a team like Chicago is playing six or fewer games in 14 days, in a game involving two good teams (60% to 75% win percentage), the ‘under’ is 9-1 this season, with the average score 226.5.

NBA Pick: Under 230 (-110) at FanDuel