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A look at the 2011-12 games between the Bulls and 76ers
by Sam Smith
Posted on Apr 27
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The Bulls open the 2012 playoffs noon Saturday in the United Center against the Philadelphia 76ers. The Bulls have played the 76ers just twice in the playoffs in franchise history, both times winning in five games. Both times with home-court advantage, the Bulls won the first two, lost Game 3 in Philadelphia and then won the next two. Those series were in the conference semifinals and in 1991 the Bulls went on to win their first NBA championship.
This season, the 76ers come in as the No. 8 seed with a 35-31 record while the Bulls are 50-16. Earlier this week, Philadelphia’s Evan Turner said the 76ers preferred playing the Bulls instead of Miami.
After the 76ers lost their final game of the season Thursday in Detroit, Lou Williams reiterated to reporters the 76ers preferred playing the Bulls even though the Bulls are the No. 1 seed with the league’s best record. Said Williams: “I just think it’s a better matchup for us. Obviously, you can’t overlook Chicago. They’re the No. 1 seed. That’s not what we’re doing. But competitively we feel like we have a better opportunity to go in and make more noise in a series against Chicago than we would have against a team like Miami that we haven’t matched up well with in the past. We’re playing well enough to be playing right there with any team, we feel like these past couple of weeks.”
Last season, the 76ers were eliminated 4-1 in the opening round of the playoffs after winning two of three over the Bulls in the regular season. This season, the Bulls were 2-1 against the 76ers. Here’s a look at those three games:
Feb. 1: Philadelphia wins 98-82 in Philadelphia.
The Bulls were without injured Luol Deng (wrist) and Richard Hamilton (shoulder) and in the third game of a nine-game road trip and third game in four nights. Also, Derrick Rose had 18 points, but wasn’t feeling well and had sat out the morning shootaround. It perhaps was the low point in the season for the Bulls a few days after the disappointing loss in Miami. The Bulls were 18-6, just a game ahead of the 76ers and hadn’t defeated a team with a winning record in almost a month. The 76ers were more active, quicker on defense and dominated the Bulls on the boards. Coach Tom Thibodeau sat the starters the entire four quarter as the 76ers ran their lead up to 20. C.J. Watson led the Bulls with 20 while the 76ers had five players in double figures led by Andre Iguodala and Thaddeus Young with 19. The 76ers ran the Bulls silly, 21-4 in fast break points.
March 4: Bulls win 96-91 in Philadelphia.
Rose gave the Bulls a little pregame pep talk, saying the 76ers were laughing and celebrating after the last game and that had to change. It was a rare Sunday night game in Philadelphia ending three road games in five days for the Bulls. It was also a rare complete starting lineup for the Bulls with Hamilton playing and Rose in relatively good health. Rose would end with 35 points and eight assists while hitting four three pointers. The 76ers were led by Young with 17 and Elton Brand with 14 points and 13 rebounds, and again the 76ers outrebounded the league’s No. 1 rebounding team, this time 50-45. Rose also clinched the win down the stretch with a difficult floater with 20 seconds left for a four-point Bulls lead. The 76ers had missed two chances to tie or go ahead in the last 70 seconds. The Bulls were hot at this time with 13 of 15 to take over the best record in the league while Watson sprained his ankle in the game. It slowed him, but he mostly played on.
March 17: Bulls win 89-80 in the United Center.
The 76ers were beginning to fade some with their defense that overwhelmed the Bulls in their first two meetings. This time the Bulls outrebounded the 76ers 53-39 as the 76ers were playing the second of a back to back after losing to Miami at home the night before while the Bulls were coming off a home loss to Portland the night before. It was St. Patrick’s Day and Hamilton and Rose (groin) were both out with Ronnie Brewer and Watson starting. Watson led with 20 points and four three pointers while Jrue Holiday had 30 for the Bulls as they seemed to sucker him into shooting a lot (27 shots to 10 for the next highest player) and throw off the usually balanced 76ers’ offense. The Bulls reserves were strong with 11 points each from Taj Gibson and Kyle Korver and the defense with Joakim Noah getting 13 points and 11 rebounds and Omer Asik with four offensive rebounds kept the 76ers frustrated. Watson labored through his sprained ankle effectively and the Bulls matched the 76ers going small with John Lucas playing 20 minutes after the 76ers led by a dozen in the first half.