Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers have inflicted an early blowout on the Chicago Bulls, the likes of which has been seen just once in the past 25 years.
Heading into the matchup, which took place at Chicago’s United Center, the Sixers were sitting in third in the Eastern Conference with just 11 games to go in the regular season, and the Bulls in tenth, just a couple of games from the dreaded 11th position. Theoretically, it was a pivotal game for both teams, but just one of them played like it.
After a little over two minutes, the 76ers had a 13-0 lead and the Bulls took a timeout. That lead then extended to 17-0, and they took another. A minute later, a Joel Embiid dunk took the score to 21-1. In the last quarter of a century, only one team has gained a 20-point advantage over their opposition in a shorter period of time; that was the Washington Wizards over the Brooklyn Nets back in 2016.
The lead blew out even further thereafter, with a 40-point second quarter for the Sixers opening up a 76-48 lead. As is so often the case in the NBA, the Bulls made a customary comeback in the third, but after the head start they gave their opposition, they were never likely to be able to give themselves a legitimate chance at winning.
Making matters even worse for the Bulls, DeMar DeRozan sat with a quad injury after just 21 minutes of game time and was subsequently ruled out for the remainder. What’s more, an Indiana Pacers win over the Toronto Raptors means that the Bulls are now perilously close to losing their hold on a play-in spot.