By: Thomas Gibbons
The Chicago Bulls are on a hot streak, riding a five game win streak. Who would have expected this?
The 76ers are in Chicago Monday night in hopes of ending that streak but will be without Joel Embiid. The former first round pick in 2014 does not play back to back games but is also dealing with back tightness as well.
Embiid has yet to play the Bulls, the only Eastern Conference team he has yet to step on the court against. He is averaging 24.1 points and 11 rebounds per game this season.
Even without Embiid, the Bulls will have their hands full containing Ben Simmons. Simmons is averaging 17.3 points, 8.9 rebounds, and 7.8 assists per game. He is taking the league by storm and will be fun to watch tonight.
For the Bulls, Lauri Markkanen went through shootaround and is expected to start per Fred Hoiberg. The Finnish rookie has missed the past three games with back spasms. He is averaging 15.4 points and 7.6 rebounds in December and shooting 42% from the field.
The big story of this Bulls unpopular win streak is Kris Dunn and his continued development. He hit big shots in both the Jazz and Bucks games and is becoming everything the Bulls want him to be.
The second year guard has scored in double-figures in the last seven games and is averaging 7.3 assists in December. We are seeing a point guard grow right in front of us and it has been enjoyable. With the return of Zach LaVine on the horizon, there is excitement that Dunn will get a whole lot better with a playmaker on the wing.
Could the win streak come to an end tonight? It’s very probable. The 76ers are 6th in the league in points but are 25th in points allowed. The one thing to watch tonight is the rebound battle. The 76ers rank 1st in the league in board and that could be the difference in the game.
Do we want a win? No. The Bulls are supposed to be tanking, not fighting for the 8th seed in the East. If there is one positive from all this, it’s that these guys are playing together and the young guys are taking big steps in their development.
Tune in at 7p.m. to see if Nikola Mirotic, who is averaging 25 points in his last three games, can go 6-0!