Bulls-76ers Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated December 12, 2012
Success at home in close games against the Chicago Bulls was key to the Philadelphia 76ers ousting the Eastern Conference's top seed in last season's playoffs. Their recent surge at Wells Fargo Center seems rather similar. The 76ers will be looking to make things a bit easier on themselves as they go for their eighth win in 10 home games Wednesday night against the Bulls. Philadelphia (12-9) eliminated Chicago (11-9) in six games during the opening round of the playoffs last spring, winning all three home meetings by an average of 4.3 points. They've won seven of nine overall meetings when hosting the Bulls, holding an advantage of only 2.5 points per game in that stretch. The margin for error has been even tighter for Philadelphia during a 7-2 run at home in which it's outscored opponents by an average of 1.1 points. "It's nice that our guys are finding ways to win those close games because if not, we could be in real trouble with our record," coach Doug Collins said. Jrue Holiday helped Philadelphia close out Monday's 104-97 win over Detroit by scoring 12 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter and also finishing with eight assists. Evan Turner chipped in with 18 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists, giving him an average of 21.2 points while hitting 10 of 19 from behind the arc over the past six home games. "They have fought, and they have competed and they're growing up," Collins said. "To see Evan and Jrue start to emerge as a backcourt that can play like that together and really thrive is very exciting. "I think these guys are getting a real confidence about themselves to make plays at the end of the game." That wasn't the case in Chicago on Dec. 1, when Philadelphia lost 93-88 despite 23 points from Holiday and 22 from Thaddeus Young. Turner struggled, missing 11 of 17 shots and finishing with 12 points. Young's performance was the start of a five-game stretch in which he's averaged 18.8 points after scoring 20 against the Pistons. "We're the (three) guys that have to go out there and be key for us each and every night," Young said. The Bulls, without Richard Hamilton for the last five games (sprained left foot), are looking to rebound from Tuesday's 94-89 defeat to the Los Angeles Clippers. Chicago, though, has won three in a row on the road, and Hamilton's fill-in is providing an unexpected spark. Marco Belinelli has averaged 19.8 points while sinking 12 of 30 attempts from beyond the arc in his last four games starting in place of Hamilton, who suffered the injury in the win over Philadelphia earlier this month. Belinelli will try to continue his surge after posting 18 points, seven rebounds, five assists and two steals against the Clippers. Luol Deng wasn't close to being that effective Tuesday, making 3 of 14 field goals to finish with eight points after matching Belinelli's 22 in Saturday's 93-85 win over New York. Deng leads the Bulls with 17.8 points per game, and he scored 25 with seven rebounds and seven assists versus the 76ers on Dec. 1.
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