Bulls vs. 76ers Odds & Picks: Can the Sixers Continue to Roll at Home?
Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Joel Embiid #21 of the Philadelphia 76ers.
- The Philadelphia 76ers host the Chicago Bulls during Friday's NBA action.
- Will the Sixers take care of business against a less talented Bulls team, or experience another late defensive lapse like they did on Wednesday?
- Kenny Ducey breaks it down and shares his betting pick below.
Editor’s note: Ben Simmons was downgraded from probable to out Friday due to an illness and will sit for the second straight contest. For real-time updates to these lineups, check out our Action Labs NBA lineups page.
Bulls vs. 76ers Odds
|Moneyline||+195 / -245|
|Time||7:30 p.m. ET|
With the chips stacked against them on Wednesday — riding in on a three-game losing streak and missing Ben Simmons due to an illness — the Sixers stepped up in a big way and blew the doors off the Houston Rockets for three quarters before allowing a backdoor cover.
Philly surely won’t be thinking about the margin of victory, just simply that it got the result itself, and will carry some positive momentum into a very winnable game against the Chicago Bulls. Chicago sits ninth in the East standings, but have struggle against top opponents.
Will the Sixers take care of business against a less talented Bulls team, or experience another late defensive lapse like they did on Wednesday? Let’s dig into the numbers and see if we can find some value in this game.
The Bulls’ season has been a weird one. They are a half game behind the Knicks and Hornets in the standings, and have played the most games decided by three points or fewer in the East.
So, you’d assume that perhaps they’re just getting unlucky, right? Well, not really.
The Bulls have taken care of business struggling teams, but haven’t played good teams well this season. They have a disappointing 2-9 record against teams above .500 this season, which, is a mark worth monitoring as they get set to play the No. 1 team in the East.
It’s no surprise, either, when you consider Chicago ranks near the bottom third of the NBA in Offensive Efficiency, and sit 20th with a 112 Defensive Rating, according to NBA Advanced Stats.
In their defense, the Bulls have had some crummy injury luck in 2021. Lauri Markkanen is back on the shelf with a shoulder sprain after he was forced to miss seven games due to the league’s health and safety protocols. Friday will mark the eighth straight contest without Otto Porter, Jr. (back). On top of all that, Wendell Carter, Jr. just recently returned from a 10-game absence.
So, perhaps we should cut the Bulls some slack in terms of their season-long marks, considering they haven’t been totally healthy all year. The good news for this one is they will have Carter, who made their defense four points better per 100 possessions last season.
His defense will come in handy against the menacing Joel Embiid inside, and he stands as one of the only hopes of keeping things competitive against Philly.
While the Bulls have struggled against the top teams in the NBA, the Sixers have absolutely dominated teams like the Bulls. Philly is 14-3 straight-up against teams under .500. So, heading home to face a bad team, it’s no surprise to see such a large spread.
Don’t let the points scare you. Philadelphia’s most profitable spot this season has been at home, where it’s gone 9-5 against the spread, and the Sixers are 7-5 ATS as home favorites, according to Bet Labs.
On top of this, they’re 2-1 ATS in games where they’ve been favored by nine or more points. We’re still working with small samples at this point in the season, but we’re beginning to see that this Sixers team is dangerous, and they have certainly not played down to their opponents.
While the Sixers themselves have been dangerous, betting on them has been dangerous at times this season, too. Embiid has been a late scratch multiple times now, and has been listed as questionable several times due to his back. On Wednesday, he didn’t appear to be 100%, and needed some treatment on the sideline late.
At the time of writing, Embiid is not on the injury report for Friday’s game. Ben Simmons, who missed Wednesday’s game due to an illness, remains on the report, though he’s listed as probable.
With Simmons and Embiid on the floor this season, the Sixers have been predictably dominant. Both have elite post-up stats, and are a big reason why Philly ranks just outside the top 10 in points in the paint, just one spot behind the Bulls.
The difference between these two teams, though, is that Philly’s defense has been elite — particularly in the paint, where the team allows just 41.4%. The Bulls, on the other hand, rank in the bottom five with shots falling at a 45.7% rate. Philadelphia’s prowess in the paint will be a big factor here, and Embiid’s matchup against Carter will be box-office.
The Sixers’ record in these spots speaks for itself.
One of the areas the Bulls have been able to hang with teams has been defending shots behind the arc — they’ve allowed just teams to shoot just 36.1% on 3s this season. That won’t bother the Sixers, who average the third-fewest 3-point attempts per game. Instead, Philly will look to attack the paint, where they have the biggest weapon in Embiid and a clear advantage over a mediocre frontcourt defense.
Carter’s return will certainly give the team a boost, but Simmons and Tobias Harris also receive plenty of paint touches, and he doesn’t have six arms. The Bulls’ defense should collapse unto itself.
Dating back to Jan. 10, when the Bulls covered a 10-point spread against the Clippers, they have gone 7-8 ATS, and have failed to cover in any of their games against the league’s elite teams. They should fall in line here in Philadelphia, where the Sixers have been cover machines.
Pick: Sixers -8 (up to -10)