The Sixers (18-7) hosted the Chicago Bulls (10-17) on Monday. Philadelphia wanted to push its winning streak to seven games. Chicago wanted to bounce back from a loss to the Miami Heat. A dominant night from Joel Embiid and a big fourth quarter from Tyrese Maxey were not enough as the rest of the Sixers went quiet in a 108-104 defeat.

Before we get to what I saw, some notes.

Contextual Notes

The Bulls were without the services of Zach LaVine, who has right foot inflammation.

Lonzo Ball is recovering from surgery on his left knee and was out.

Torrey Craig has a sore right heel and was not available.

Adama Sanogo, Henri Drell, and Onuralp Bitim are on two-way assignments with Chicago's G League affiliate and were not available.

Billy Donovan started Coby White, Ayo Dosunmu, DeMar DeRozan, Patrick Williams, and Nikola Vucevic.

The Sixers were without Marcus Morris Sr., who has an illness.

Jaden Springer is on a G League assignment with the Delaware Blue Coats and was not available.

Terq Smith, Javonte Smart, and Ricky Council IV are on two-way G League assignments with the Blue Coats and were out.

Nick Nurse started Tyrese Maxey, De'Anthony Melton, Nico Batum, Tobias Harris, and Joel Embiid.


- It's been a long, long time since Embiid has had a teammate like Batum. In fact, the last one might be fan-favorite Dario Saric. A jack-of-all trades type who grew up away from the American basketball pipeline that glorifies being a bucket-getter before anything else.

Batum frequently finds way to do the little things that are so valuable to a team with championship aspirations, and he finds different ways to do them so as to maintain some level of unpredictability.

He stepped off of his plane to Philadelphia as maybe the best passer on the team, and has found a variety of ways to make entry passes to Embiid, something his teammates struggle mightily to execute. The latest stroke of creativity was a shot fake from the corner that turned into a bullet of a pass to Embiid at the height of Batum's fake.

Just having multiple players capable of throwing comfortable entry passes to the big guy would be an improvement, and you can count the number of ways Batum can do it on two hands.

- We (rightfully) talk a lot about Melton and Robert Covington as being masters of help defense because they're deflection magnets. But, the first quarter and change of defense from Maxey was excellent. He had his hands all over the driving lanes, sliding wide at just the right moments to poke the ball away or outright rip it from the red jersey as he passed by.

Now, it is a cardinal sin of the NBA to help from the strong side because it means you're at risk of surrendering an open corner three. But, Maxey blew up a number of Chicago possessions by feasting on drivers from the strong side because he timed his lunges well. Outside of getting the ball to Embiid, Philadelphia really struggled to generate anything on offense in the first half. But, Maxey helped make things a bit easier by creating transition opportunities for his team.

- After an abhorrent second-quarter stint (see below), the non-Embiid unit to open the fourth quarter gave the Sixers a legitimate chance to win the game. Philadelphia can thank Maxey for that. The strategy was simple; small-small pick-and-rolls (largely featuring Patrick Beverley and Kelly Oubre Jr.) to get Maxey a switch he liked, and he went to work.

He dominated the fourth quarter, practically willing Philadelphia back from the dead by himself. He got into the paint, earning his way to the charity stripe. Maxey came off screens and stepped into good looks from beyond the arc. A legitimate star run while the big guy was recharging.


- Been a while since we've seen a display of offense from a non-Embiid unit as bad as the one to open the second quarter. Beverley, Maxey, Oubre, Covington, and Paul Reed had nothing going. Literally; the unit went the first three minutes and change of the second quarter without scoring.

What especially hurt Philadelphia in that segment was that the Bulls had defensive ace Alex Caruso in the game. His job was quite clear - don't let Maxey seize control. He hounded the young Sixers star, who is already bobbing in and out of a shooting slump. With Maxey unable to create space let alone find touch and Oubre Jr. leaning towards the "miss" side of a hit-or-miss night, that group was stuck in the mud.

- As an aside on the topic of Maxey struggling against Caruso. I actually think a game like this is a data point for Philadelphia's plans during trade season. Sure, Maxey has the skill to commandeer a segment of the game without Embiid. But, he's also a small guard. It's not all that difficult for teams to load up against him, giving multiple defenders to navigate to get within reasonable distance of the basket or goad into passing to a less qualified teammate.

So, when the Sixers have matchups and matchups within matchups like this, it sure would be nice to have a bigger third piece to stagger with Maxey and bolster those non-Embiid units. Thinking you're going to be able to weather teams deeper in the playoffs with just Maxey in those minutes without Embiid is a risky proposition.

- Perhaps those minutes wouldn't have been a decisive loss if the Sixers hadn't lit the scouting report on fire. One of the fascinating storylines in recent weeks has been that the Bulls are playing better without LaVine because White has blossomed. He's been scoring at will, largely because his shooting has been phenomenal. So, naturally, even when Embiid was back on the court, Philadelphia showed all the classic signs of neglect on a hot shooter.

They went under high ball screens. They gave the Bulls the switch and then didn't play high enough in isolation. And then, when White began to cook, Chicago used him off the ball a bit. The Sixers pulled in on drives, leaving White open for kick-outs.

- The problem with playing down to competition on this night was that the Sixers spotted Chicago the lead before DeRozan subbed back in. And when DeRozan re-entered the game, you actually felt like the Sixers might be in some trouble. Philadelphia let Maxey guard DeRozan, who promptly buried jumpers over his best efforts to contest out of the post. Then, it was Embiid's turn to guard DeRozan; no dice.

When you play sloppily, you run the risk of falling behind before the opponent's alpha has a chance to inflict damage. It wasn't even the most dominant DeRozan game. But, he did his part at moments when the Sixers were most vulnerable.

- This was the worst game of Oubre's Sixers tenure, and it wasn't close. You couldn't have asked for better looks from three than the ones he got, and his touch was nowhere to be found. Missing shots wouldn't have been that big of a deal had he not compounded it with some space cadet moments on defense. He missed a number of rotations, surrendering open threes to the Bulls just one pass away on numerous possessions throughout the game.

- As great as Embiid was on offense for basically 99.9 percent of the game, he let his team down on defense as soon as he picked up his fifth foul. Embiid was programmed with some level of conservation under Doc Rivers, often being removed from games for the current stretch if he got into foul trouble. But, when you're in the guts of the fourth quarter, you might as well go down swinging. Embiid was not aggressive or even mindful on defense in the fourth quarter, granting Vucevic open threes on pick-and-pops late in crunch time. He didn't even try to make contests. They were effectively practice shots.

- The Sixers have largely been a much-improved rebounding team this season. But, in a game that saw shoddy offense and some defensive lapses, they did not help themselves on the defensive glass at critical moments. Chicago came down with a number of offensive rebounds at times when Philadelphia sorely needed stops.

- Batum missed the fourth quarter with a tight right hamstring. So, we'll see if anything comes of that.

- Harris took three shots in a four-point loss. Not great.

The Sixers (18-8) will host the Minnesota Timberwolves (20-5) on Wednesday. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m., Eastern time. You can watch the game on NBA TV.

Remember These Places That Use To Be In Sea Isle City, New Jersey

Thanks in part to the Ash Wednesday Storm of 1962 and Hurricane Sandy in 2012, Sea Isle City has seen many changes over the years. Whether you grew up in South Jersey or vacationed multiple summers in Sea Isle City, you may remember some of these buildings and businesses that no longer exist. Which ones below do you remember most? (Special Thank you to the Sea Isle Historical Museum for helping me get these pictures and information)

Gallery Credit: Josh Hennig/Townsquare Media

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