The Bulls have had mixed results playing the second part of back-to-backs on their schedule this season, but they'll look to rebound from last night's home loss to the Clippers when they square off against Jrue Holiday and the Philadelphia 76ers tonight on Comcast SportsNet. Coverage begins at 6 p.m. with Bulls Pregame Live.
Tom Thibodeau's group has played four back-to-backs in 2012, with a 2-2 record in the latter game. But tonight's will be a tough test, as last night's late 8:30 start will be a quick turnaround after the Bulls lose an hour traveling to Philadelphia. On Nov. 3, Chicago fell to Anthony Davis and the Hornets at home the night after a win in Cleveland. During their circus road trip, Chicago went from Los Angeles to Portland overnight, and fell to the Trail Blazers, 102-94. Last week, the Bulls won in Cleveland on Nov. 5 after a Nov. 4 home loss to Indiana, and turned around on Nov. 8 to beat the red-hot New York Knicks after beating the Pistons in Detroit the previous night.
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The Sixers began their home slate 4-4, but have since won three of their last four. They are just 4-4 on the road, with one of those losses coming in a Dec. 1 game in Chicago, 93-88. Another low-scoring affair should be in store tonight, as the Bulls have allowed the second-fewest points per game (91.4), with the Sixers ranking eighth in the same category (94.5).
Stopping the 23-year-old Holiday will be the Bulls' first order of business. He has exploded on the scene in his first year as the team's go-to player -- following the departure of Andre Iguodala and the injury to Andrew Bynum -- and torched the Bulls for 23 points and 7 assists in the teams' first meeting. Holiday is third in the NBA with 8.9 assists, but he's also committing 3.8 turnovers per game, the fourth-highest mark in the league. He has cut down on his miscues, averaging just 2.0 giveaways in his last five games, and committed just one turnover against Chicago, but the Bulls will need to find a way to force Holiday into situations that will allow them to get out and run.
While Rip Hamilton is out -- he scored 15 points against the Sixers earlier this month -- the Bulls have a new X-factor of sorts at their disposal. Sharpshooter Marco Belinelli has been magnificent since Hamilton's injury, averaging 19.8 points while playing a whopping 41.5 minutes over the last four games. The Bulls took just seven 3-pointers in their last meeting against the Sixers, but have attempted 15.6 shots beyond the arc the last three games. Almost half (22) have come from Belinelli, and as long as he stays in rhythm, that number should stay around the same.
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It's still early in the season, but with both teams nearly identical in the standings, the Bulls could secure the season series with a win tonight -- the two teams will play again on Feb. 28 at the United Center.
The Bulls are looking to continue their hot streak in second games of back-to-backs while the Sixers have been home since Sunday, so something's bound to give tonight at the Wells Fargo Center.
Tune into Comcast SportsNet to see if Chicago can extend its lead in the Central Division.