Bulls aim to dispel their Joel Embiid curse in make-or-break game

Joel Embiid, Chicago Bulls (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
Joel Embiid, Chicago Bulls (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images) /

For perhaps the first time all season, the Chicago Bulls are finally establishing an identity and consistently winning games. Since the addition of Patrick Beverley, this team’s will to win has increased exponentially and a trip to the postseason is slowly but surely becoming a realistic expectation for the Bulls.

Before they get too far ahead of themselves, however, the Bulls have an enormous test ahead of themselves in the form of the Philadelphia 76ers. Winners in their last 8, and 14 of their last 17 games, the 76ers are undeniably the most dangerous team in the NBA right now. This recent success comes largely thanks to Joel Embiid, who is playing the best basketball of his career and making a genuine push for MVP consideration.

Of course, Philadelphia’s 8-game win streak still pales in comparison to another streak they currently hold — Joel Embiid’s head-to-head record against Chicago. Despite this being his seventh season in the league, the Bulls have never actually defeated Embiid and hold a 0-12 record against the superstar.

Now that the Chicago Bulls have conquered their personal demons, they’ll be put to the test against their greatest adversary in Joel Embiid and the 76ers.

However, the Bulls have been building some positive momentum in their own right, going 7-4 since the All-Star Break with two of those losses coming via last-second buzzer-beaters. Beverley’s presence combined with the fact Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan are finally clicking at the right time has the Bulls looking like a brand-new team.

Chicago even has the NBA’s sixth-best net rating over the last 15 games, meaning this might could perhaps be the best chance they’ll get to break Embiid’s winning streak. Fortunately, they’ll get two chances to do so, as the Bulls are set to play a consecutive pair of games against the 76ers to close out the season series.

Embiid is averaging an insane 33.8 points and 10.5 rebounds per game since the calendar flipped, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to deny his claim to the MVP award as the 76ers surge up the standings while Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets continue stumbling toward the finish line.

The Bulls have already busted two huge win streaks this season — including Boston’s 9-game win streak in November and Brooklyn’s 12-game streak in January — so this would be another massive victory to halt the 76ers momentum here. Don’t be mistaken though, this wouldn’t just be a moral victory.

The Bulls are now fiercely involved in the play-in tournament picture and are just 1.5 games behind the 8th-seeded Hawks. Splitting the series (or day I say, taking both games) against the 76ers would be a massive win for Chicago as they try to secure better positioning in the postseason.

Any way you look at it, these two games could potentially tip the scales and decide the fate of the Chicago Bulls this season. Tip-off is at 6 p.m. CT tonight, make sure to tune in to see if this team still has some fight left in it.

Next. 10 worst free agent signings in Bulls history. dark