Looks like Chicago Bulls will miss Sixers center Embiid once again
While the Bulls' surprising win streak stands at five in a row, another streak is set to stay alive.
The Philadelphia 76ers announced Sunday center Joel Embiid will sit out Monday's game at the United Center. Embiid has still never played against the Bulls.
The 7-foot Embiid is averaging 24.1 points and 11 rebounds this season. He's been a sensation as a towering center who moves like a small forward. But Embiid missed his entire first two NBA seasons with foot problems and was held out of the lineup for every Bulls-Sixers game last season.
Embiid scored 34 points in a career-high 49 minutes during Philadelphia's triple-overtime loss to Oklahoma City on Friday. His previous career-high in minutes played was 39, in his previous game last Tuesday at Minnesota. There was no mention of an injury, but Embiid did appear to hurt his back against the Thunder and kept playing.
Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg talked about Embiid's impact on Sunday at the Advocate Center.
"Everything does go through Embiid," he said. "They give him 14 post-ups a game, which is by far the most in the league. He's a really good facilitator down there in the post."
Hoiberg was asked if he pays attention to Embiid's Twitter account, which is one of the most entertaining in the league.
"I don't. I am no longer on social media in any way," Hoiberg said with a laugh. "And my life has improved in a big way since I've done that."
Felicio working on game:
When Nikola Mirotic returned from injury, Bobby Portis basically slid over to the backup center slot, leaving Cristiano Felicio mostly on the bench.
Felicio joined the Windy City Bulls on Saturday, producing 22 points and 13 rebounds in a loss to defending league champ Raptors 905 at the Sears Centre.
"For me, it feels pretty good to go down there and get some playing time," Felicio said Sunday at the Advocate Center. "Run up and down and be able to do things I wasn't doing here since I wasn't playing and try to get back into game shape."
Felicio talked about what he's been trying to do to earn his way back in the rotation. After signing a four-year, $32-million extension this summer, he's averaged just 4.0 points and 2.9 rebounds, playing in 21 of 28 games.
"I think I have to be a lot better offensively," he said. "That's what I'm trying to work on and improve every day. I think that's going to help me get more minutes on the court."
Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said more Windy City games could be in Felicio's future.
"If we can get more of those situations where we have an off day and Windy City is playing a home game, it's great for a guy like Cris to go down and get those game-type minutes because it's so hard to simulate that in practice," Hoiberg said.
Backup point guard Kay Felder also played for Windy City on Saturday and scored 11 points. Shooting guard Antonio Blakeney, meanwhile, scored 37 and is now averaging 37.9 points in seven G-League appearances.
Markkanen getting better:
Once again, the Bulls had positive news on rookie Lauri Markkanen, who has missed the past three games with back spasms.
Coach Fred Hoiberg said if Markkanen could get through Sunday's practice and feels good at Monday's shootaround, there's a good chance he'll play against Philadelphia. Hoiberg has already said several times he plans to return Markkanen to the starting lineup, despite Nikola Mirotic averaging 25 points in the three games Markkanen has missed.
On the topic of whether the Bulls should be worried about Markkanen missing games with a sore back three times already, including summer league and preseason, Hoiberg suggested this can be chalked up to growing pains for a 20-year-old rookie. Markkanen also played for Finland in the European championships in September.
"When you throw everything together on a 20-year-old player, you're going to go through some of this," Hoiberg said. "He has gone through a little bit of fatigue. He's just going through a little tightness and tiredness in his body. But he's going to continue to fight through it.