The Sixers finally did what they were supposed to do and lost. By virtue of a blowout defeat to Detroit Thursday night, the team earned a playoff date with the Chicago Bulls.
The same Chicago Bulls that Evan Turner took heat for after calling them a better matchup, and adding that the Sixers would have an “opportunity to win the series.” On Thursday, he clarified those remarks.
“What I said was looking back at the past two years matching up against teams, we had a tougher time against the Heat,” Turner said. “That’s all I said. If I had to choose, we match up better against the Bulls. Obviously, the Bulls are one of the best teams in the East and one of the best teams in the NBA.
“I’m not taking anything away from them. I would never do that. When I heard what was written, ‘What?’ I wouldn’t sit there and say anything like that. How many minutes do I play? How big a role will I have [in the playoffs]? Why would I run my mouth?”
Turner’s remarks aside, the Sixers actually do have a better shot against the Bulls, at least a better one than they would against the Heat. Either way, Sixers beat writer Adam Levitan breaks it down:
Three reasons the Sixers have hope:
1. RECENT HISTORY: The Sixers have actually fared well against the Bulls over the last two seasons, splitting six meetings. The average score in those meetings has been Bulls 95.1, Sixers 91.1.
2. BULLS INJURIES: Derrick Rose missed 27 games this season and is just getting over groin, ankle and foot woes. He’s not in the same rhythm he was last year when he won the league’s MVP. Additionally, Luol Deng has been playing through damaged wrist ligaments all season.
3. PLAYOFF EXPERIENCE: This is the Sixers’ fourth trip to the playoffs in the last five years. They’re no longer satisfied with winning a game or two.
Matchups to keep an eye on
Point guard: Jrue Holiday vs. Derrick Rose — It’s been a wildly disappointing year for Holiday, who is desperately needed to create offense in half-court sets. But in this series, his main job will be containing Rose on the defensive end. ADVANTAGE » BULLS
Shooting guard: Jodie Meeks vs. Richard Hamilton — If Meeks isn’t making his 3-pointers, he’s a liability out there. The bad news for the Sixers is that Meeks made just 26.3 percent of his treys in the first 13 games in April. ADVANTAGE » BULLS
Small forward: Andre Iguodala vs. Luol Deng — We know that Iguodala can’t carry the Sixers offensively and when he tries to, it spells trouble. Complicating matters is that Deng is one of the longest and best perimeter defenders in the league. ADVANTAGE » BULLS
Power forward: Elton Brand vs. Carlos Boozer — Two declining Duke products go head-to-head here. Boozer gets the edge thanks to his ability to knock down jumpers from beyond 10 feet. ADVANTAGE » BULLS
Center: Spencer Hawes vs. Joakim Noah — After a red-hot start, Hawes’ Achilles injury proved to be crippling. He’s been a shell of himself since returning and has little chance of matching Noah’s toughness and energy. ADVANTAGE » BULLS
Bench: The Bulls certainly have a strong bench, featuring the likes of Taj Gibson, C.J. Watson, Kyle Korver and Ronnie Brewer. But the Sixers’ duo of Thaddeus Young and Lou Williams can be difference-making offensively. ADVANTAGE » SIXERS
Coaching: Doug Collins vs. Tom Thibodaux — Thibs is a defensive mastermind that has his entire roster playing selfless basketball. Collins’ rugged message (and late-night texts) appeared to be wearing on the Sixers’ players down the stretch. ADVANTAGE » BULLS