Let’s be clear, here. This is a good playoff upset pick in the sense that it’s more likely than conventional wisdom would believe. This does not make the pick probable, though.
Philadelphia’s odds are much better than Indiana’s 2011 chances when the Pacers were separated by a 8.4 points differential from the Bulls. This year, the gap between the one and eight seeds is much closer, with Chicago posting an 8.2 points differential and Philadelphia posting a 4.2 mark.
This does not tell the whole story, of course. The 76ers saw their offense crumble down the stretch. So risk averse was Doug Collins’ attack (last in the league in turnovers), that it ceased to generate the chances needed for point production.
Chicago also carries flaws from the season’s close, namely one they couldn’t control in the health of Derrick Rose. With Rose, the Bulls really are the best regular season team in all the land. Without him, they’re roughly equivalent to the Pacers, which places them close to the level of, yes, the Sixers.
Both squads play excellent perimeter defense, and this is where Philadelphia’s chance lies. If a gimpy Derrick Rose plays like an ersatz version of himself, Rose could suffer greatly against Andre Iguodala and Jrue Holiday. Iguodala may be basketball’s best perimeter defender (LeBron James and Tony Allen have arguments), and Holiday is simply the best point guard I’ve seen at cutting off the drives of opposing PGs.
So, do not be surprised if the Sixers lock the Bulls up. Do, however, be surprised if Philadelphia scores a lot. Their long-two barrage is perhaps not the best method of cracking the Chicago code. In the aggregate, expect a close series, closer than what may be anticipated.
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