Theoretically, the Bulls should be vulnerable. Their top player - reigning MVP Derrick Rose - has been dealing with injuries all year. Luol Deng is playing with a torn tendon in his left wrist. Rip Hamilton - the player brought in to solidify the shooting guard spot and provide a complement to Rose on the offensive end - has been out of the lineup more often than not. And yet, none of that kept the Bulls from posting the best overall record in the NBA this season.
The Sixers charged out of the gate to start the season and were an early, surprise favorite to win the Atlantic Division. But they faded badly down the stretch and were barely able to hold on to the eighth and final seed in the playoffs. They're a unique team, in that they have no real "star" - sixth man Lou Williams led the team in scoring at 14.9 ppg. And they play very good defense. But they probably don't have the talent to compete with Chicago.
The Bulls won two of three regular-season meetings with the Sixers.
Prediction: Bulls in five.
Series Schedule and Results
The Bulls won the game, but lost something much more significant. Reigning MVP Derrick Rose tore the ACL in his left knee while attempting a layup in the final minutes and will be sidelined for the remainder of the playoffs.
The Bulls played very well without Derrick Rose during the regular season, but in their first playoff game without the 2011 MVP, they were over-matched. Philly guard Jrue Holiday - who would have been matched up against Rose if circumstances were different - torched Chicago for 26 points as the Sixers evened the series at one game apiece.
Spencer Hawes scored 21 points and Jrue Holiday added 17 as the Sixers squeezed past the Bulls to take a 2-1 series lead. Chicago is now 0-2 without Derrick Rose, who tore his ACL in their game one win.
The turning point of the game - pun intended - may have been Joakim Noah's ankle injury. Noah twisted his ankle during the game. He tried to play through the pain, but had to leave in the fourth, giving the Sixers a significant size advantage in the final period.
Playing without Derrick Rose was bad enough. The Bulls played game four without Joakim Noah as well. That short-handed, Chicago couldn't come up with a way to stop Spencer Hawes (22 points) or Jrue Holiday (20).
Down 3-1 in the series, Chicago is on the verge of becoming just the fourth one seed to lose in the first round - the second since the first round was expanded to seven games.
The Sixers had a chance to eliminate the top overall seed in these playoffs... and instead, turned in one of the ugliest offensive performances in recent memory. Philadelphia managed to score just 69 points - 26 in the first half - against a Chicago team missing point guard Derrick Rose and center Joakim Noah.
Luol Deng - essentially playing one-handed due to a left wrist injury - led Chicago with 26 points.
The Bulls almost lost another key player when Taj Gibson turned an ankle in the third quarter, but Gibson was able to return and play the fourth.
Andre Iguodala's free throws with 2.2 seconds on the clock sealed the win, as the Sixers became just the fourth eight seed to advance to the second round of the NBA playoffs. Philadelphia trailed by three with under 26 seconds remaining, but scored the final four points to win the game and series.
The freebies were the last two of Iguodala's game-high 20 points.
Luol Deng and Rip Hamilton scored 19 points each for the Bulls, who were playing without Derrick Rose (ACL) and Joakim Noah (ankle).
Philadelphia will meet Atlantic Division rival Boston in the second round.
Philadelphia wins series, 4-2.