Dunleavy, Bulls not overlooking woeful 76ers

Dunleavy, Bulls not overlooking woeful 76ers
March 18, 2014, 5:45 pm
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Mark Strotman

The Philadelphia 76ers are on the verge of making NBA history for all the wrong reasons, but the Bulls know anything can happen.

Tom Thibodeau's group will travel to the City of Brotherly Love on Wednesday to face a team that hasn't won before the Super Bowl. The 76ers have lost 21 straight games, dating back to Jan. 31, and are showing no real signs of slowing down as they prepare to host the Bulls on Comcast SportsNet.

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Since trading away starters Spencer Hawes and Evan Turner essentially for second-round draft picks, it's been difficult for Brett Brown's group to compete on a nightly basis. And they're now in danger of setting the record for most consecutive losses in a season, held by the 2010-11 Cleveland Cavaliers. Here's a look at the company they're trying to avoid joining:

Longest losing streaks in NBA history

RK TEAM YEAR(S) STREAK
1. Cleveland Cavaliers 2010-11 26
2. Cleveland Cavaliers 1981-83 24
3. Vancouver Grizzlies 1995-96 23
4. Denver Nuggets 1997-98 23
5. Charlotte Bobcats 2011-13 23
6. Detroit Pistons 1979-81 21
7. Philadelphia 76ers 2013-14 21

The 76ers upcoming games are: vs. Chicago, vs. New York, at Chicago, at San Antonio, at Houston, vs. Detroit.

Their easiest game is likely at home against New York, though the Knicks have won six straight. The next easiest is Detroit, which has lost nine of its last 11 games.

Still, the 76ers are actually playing better of late, if that's possible for a team which hasn't won in 46 days. Last week they lost by just seven, 101-94, to the Pacers and yesterday also were within three points with 2 minutes to play in Indiana. So while things are about as bad as it gets for an NBA team, the Bulls aren't (publicly) looking past them.

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Part of that reason is that the 76ers beat the Bulls the last time these two teams squared off in Philadelphia. Rookie of the year frontrunner Michael Carter-Williams scored 26 points and handed out 10 assists in the 76ers' 107-104 win, moving them to a surprising 3-0 start. Since then they have lost 52 of their last 64 games and no longer have Turner and Hawes, two of their three best players, but Mike Dunleavy knows upsets happen when teams least expect it.

"The last time we were there, earlier in the season, we realized anybody can be beat by anybody," Dunleavy said. "So if that isn't motivation enough, knowing that they're wounded animals are often times the most dangerous animals, so I don't expect us to have an issue getting up for that game."

The Bulls are also playing for something. Despite a 3-3 home stand, they're now just one game behind the third-place Toronto Raptors and 1.5 games ahead of the fifth-place Washington Wizards. With home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs up for grabs, don't expect a letdown from Tom Thibodeau's group.