Eastern Conference leaders, the Philadelphia 76ers, face the Chicago Bulls for the first time in the 2020-21 NBA season on Friday. The Bulls come into this game on the back of two important wins, although they will now face a Sixers side who have been dominant on home court so far, winning 12 of 14 matchups.
Chicago Bulls vs Philadelphia 76ers: Injury Updates
The Chicago Bulls have performed well in their last two outings despite their squad being rather depleted at the moment. Otto Porter Jr., whose future remains unclear, is out with back spasms, as is regular starter Lauri Markannen.
The Finnish forward will miss two to four weeks with a sprained right shoulder and will be a big miss for the Bulls, having averaged a career-high 19.1 points so far this season.
Chicago's forward depth has taken a hit with their current injury list as third-year small forward Chandler Hutchison also remains out.
The Philadelphia 76ers have had their own injury frustrations this season, though they have maintained their lead at the top of the East. This is despite star Joel Embiid missing several games through back tightness, who the Sixers are so glaringly dependent on to win. The Cameroonian spoke after Wednesday's win over Houston, stating that despite his back pain, he wanted to play to ensure the win.
At the time of writing, Embiid is expected to play on Friday, as is Ben Simmons who was upgraded to probable after missing the Philadelphia 76ers' game against the Rockets.
Aside from their two superstars, the Philadelphia 76ers are also without long-term absentee Shake Milton.
Chicago Bulls vs Philadelphia 76ers: Predicted Lineups
After winning their past two fixtures, the Chicago Bulls are unlikely to change a winning formula in facing the Philadelphia 76ers. Given that this season is somewhat of a developmental year for the Bulls, rookie Patrick Williams has been afforded 26 starts. He could form a powerful trio alongside Zach LaVine and Coby White if the franchise can retain the former.
LaVine is playing the best basketball of his NBA career, averaging 28.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and 5.2 assists. The shooting guard has been the primary offensive option for the Chicago Bulls and has been the main reason they have been able to reach a respectable record so far.
Wendell Carter Jr.'s return to the Chicago Bulls starting lineup has proven how pivotal the young center is as their No.1 rim protector and joins Garrett Temple in the Bulls frontcourt.
Given Simmons was upgraded to probable for this fixture, we have assumed the star guard will play. Simmons, Harris and Embiid have all been playing at the top of their game so far this season and it appears Doc Rivers may have figured out how to get the best out of the Philadelphia 76ers' star trio.
Embiid is a strong favorite for MVP, while Harris is averaging career-high points and is a serial third scorer for the Sixers (20.8 per game). Harris is joined in the front court by Danny Green, who has disappointed thus far for Philadelphia. Nonetheless, the former LA Lakers man provides the championship experience needed if this side are to accomplish their long-awaited Finals appearance.
Chicago Bulls vs Philadelphia 76ers: Predicted Starting 5s
G - Zach LaVine, G - Coby White, F - Garrett Temple, F - Patrick Williams, C - Wendell Carter, Jr.
G - Ben Simmons, G - Seth Curry, F - Tobias Harris, F - Danny Green, C - Joel Embiid