Philadelphia Will Have No Brotherly Love in Home Opener vs. Bulls

Wednesday, October 17, 2018 12:17 PM UTC

Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2018 12:17 PM UTC

The Philadelphia 76ers play their home opener in the first of a TNT doubleheader on Thursday night against a Bulls team in their season debut.

Chicago (0-0) at Philadelphia (0-1, 0-1 ATS)Thursday, 8 p.m. ET (TNT)Free NBA Pick: 76ersBest Line Offered: BetOnline

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We have our first TNT Thursday doubleheader of the new season. The nightcap will get all the publicity as the Lakers visit the Trail Blazers with LeBron James making his debut in Purple & Gold. My cohort Jason Lake will preview that. I’m here for the JV game: Bulls at 76ers.

It’s likely going to be another long season for the Bulls as they continue to roll with a youth movement. They have a potential superstar in last year’s first-round pick, Finnish forward Lauri Markkanen. He averaged 15.2 points and 7.5 rebounds in being named All-Rookie First Team. Markkanen needed to bulk up this offseason and did. Alas, he suffered an elbow injury in a late September practice and won’t be ready until probably mid-November at the earliest. Bobby Portis should start while Markkanen is out. Portis was excellent this preseason.

Markkanen was the No. 7 overall pick last year and the Bulls think they found another excellent piece at No. 7 overall this year in Duke center Wendell Carter Jr. He was one of the most impressive players in Summer League. The Bulls also signed former Bucks free agent and Chicago native Jabari Parker in the offseason. Fred Hoiberg will use Parker as the main scoring option with the second unit.

Hoiberg also expects a big jump forward from Zach LaVine, who was very inconsistent in 24 games last year off a torn ACL but looked explosive this preseason (17.8 points in 22 minutes on 51.7 percent shooting, including 43.8 percent from 3-point range). The Bulls likely will have a starting five for now of Kris Dunn, LaVine, Justin Holiday, Portis and Carter Jr. This is going to be a terrible defensive team but has some offensive potential once Markkanen is back.

Chicago was 1-2 against the 76ers last year and lost the lone game in Philly 115-101. Portis averaged 24.0 points and 9.7 rebounds in the three games. LaVine 22.0 ppg and 5.0 rpg in two. Joel Embiid averaged 26.0 ppg and 9.0 rebounds in two games vs. the Bulls. Ben Simmons put up 23.3 points, 11.7 rebounds and 11.7 assists.

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Tough start but “Jalen Rose” more to go #TheProcess #81 pic.twitter.com/wWxwmoYNjg

— Joel Embiid (@JoelEmbiid) October 17, 2018
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Sixers’ Stars Get Little Help

The 76ers opened the season Tuesday with a 105-87 loss in Boston – the Celtics’ 10th straight home win in the series. The big question about Philly is if it will get enough outside of its Big 2 of Embiid and Simmons against the better teams in the NBA. The answer Tuesday was a resounding no. Simmons had a near-triple-double of 19 points, 15 rebounds and eight assists, while Embiid had 23 points and 10 rebounds. No other starter had more than eight points. JJ Redick chipped in with 16 off the bench.

The 76ers were without injured rotation guys Jerryd Bayless (left knee), Mike Muscala (ankle) and offseason trade acquisition Wilson Chandler (left hamstring strain).

I think everyone is interested to see what 2017 No. 1 overall pick Markelle Fultz can do after basically redshirting as a rookie. Coach Brett Brown said his plan, at least for now, is to have Fultz start games but come off the bench in the second half and Redick starting after intermission. The Sixers outscored opponents by 268 points in 601 minutes when Redick was on the floor with the other starters last year. Fultz did not start a game as a rookie, playing just 14 in the regular season. He was pretty bad on Tuesday, going 2-for-7 from the field for five points with a plus/minus of minus-16 in 24 minutes.

  • Home team is 7-3 ATS in the last 10 meetings.
  • Bulls are 0-6 ATS in their last 6 vs. NBA Atlantic.

I might be worried about at Philly letdown if this weren’t the team’s home opener. Bulls are just 4-13 ATS in their past 17 on the road, while the Sixers are 20-7 ATS in past 27 at home. Take Philadelphia for a Thursday NBA pick.

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