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Bulls at Sixers Preview

December 06, 2006

NBA Philadelphia 76ers at Chicago Bulls (-9) Wednesday 9:00pm EST

Two Eastern Conference teams headed in much different directions collide in the Windy City. Philadelphia has lost 11 of 13 games, including four in a row. Chicago meanwhile, after another slow start, is rolling as expected with five consecutive wins and could make it to .500 with a win.

The Sixers started 3-0 and everything has been far from cheeky for coach Maurice Cheeks since. The biggest issue is lack of commitment on the defensive side end of the floor. In 11 of the Sixers 16 games played, the opposition has shot 46 percent or higher, including six different times of 50% or more. With strong personalities like Allen Iverson and Chris Webber, Mo Cheeks really has his hands full from a leadership standpoint. Add up all the disinterest and Philly is 27th in field goal defense.

The Bulls turnaround also had to do with a lack of effort on defense. Five games ago Chicago meekly surrendered a season high 123 points at Philadelphia in a decisive loss fourteen point loss as 2.5-point road underdogs. Whatever message Coach Scott Skiles delivered has sunk in as Chicago has been dominant in this winning streak. The Bulls have won by an average of 13.4 points and missed covering all five tilts by a measly half a point. What has been especially impressive is how Chicago is crashing the boards. The Bulls have been "Windex Men" out-rebounding the opposition by 7.7 boards a game the last four.

With each team headed different paths, has Chicago an 8-point favorite with a total of 198. Chicago has had their way with moribund Atlantic Division teams, posting 17-5 ATS mark against these division opponents over the last 2 seasons. The Bulls are tough to wager against when playing well. They are 21-8 ATS in home games after successfully covering the spread in 2 or more consecutive games. Philly and Iverson have to believe they can turn things around as they often have with 18-7 ATS record in road games after 2 or more consecutive losses over the last 3 seasons.

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