A pair of teams trying to stop their slides down the Eastern Conference standings will square off when the Chicago Bulls host the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday night. The Bulls have dropped two straight and are 4-8 in February, as they've slipped to sixth in the Eastern Conference playoff race. The Sixers have lost a season-high six straight after an ugly 98-84 loss to struggling Orlando on Tuesday.
Both teams have been without big stars all season. Philadelphia's Andrew Bynum continues to sit out with bilateral bone bruises in his knees and Chicago's Derrick Rose is working his way back from offseason knee surgery. Tuesday's 101-98 loss was Chicago's third straight at United Center, the team's longest home skid since losing five straight from March 1-19, 2010. The Bulls could find some relief in a visit from the Sixers, who have lost eight straight on the road and are 6-18 away from home.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, TNT
ABOUT THE 76ERS (22-33): Nothing has gone right lately for Philadelphia, which is trying to avoid its first seven-game losing streak since 2009 and has fallen 5 1/2 games behind Milwaukee for the final playoff spot in the East. Leading scorer Jrue Holiday (19 points, 8.7 assists) was held to nine points against Orlando - only the third time this season he has failed to reach double digits - as Evan Turner (13.9 points, 6.6 rebounds, 4.4 assists) was the only starter in double figures. Forward Thaddeus Young (14.7 points, 7.5 rebounds) has been slowed by a hamstring injury that kept him out for six games but has eased back into action the past two contests.
ABOUT THE BULLS (32-25): Chicago's recent struggles turned ugly with the loss to Cleveland, which was without star point guard Kyrie Irving. In addition to Rose's absence, the Bulls will be without forward Taj Gibson (sprained knee) for the next two weeks. The Bulls still have plenty of talent with Luol Deng (16.6 points, 6.7 rebounds), Carlos Boozer (15.5 points, 9.3 rebounds) and Joakim Noah (11.8 points, 11.2 rebounds), but they are lacking in quality depth and have been uncharacteristically lackluster at the defensive end this month.
1. Chicago has won the first two meetings this season and is trying to complete a season sweep of the 76ers for the first time since going 4-0 against them in 1996-97.
2. Philadelphia has not scored 100 points in any of its last 11 games.
3. Neither team has topped 100 points in the past six meetings, and neither team has swept the season series since Philadelphia did so in 2003-04.
PREDICTION: Bulls 94, 76ers 89