That dynamic proved true to the bitter end, as the Chicago Bulls managed to pull out a 117-115 victory in a battle that swayed dramatically back and forth.
The Bulls could care less about the off-court relationship between Mirotic and Portis so long as the two players don't damage their play on the court.
The Bulls are 9-20. They responded to coaching.
Coach Fred Hoiberg says Markkanen will start Monday night against Philadelphia.
The 76ers are hoping for a better outcome after their 119-117 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder in their last outing.
To a man, the Bulls have.
Philadelphia is 8-6 ATS on the road with 9 overs and 5 unders.
"NI-KO! NI-KO!" they chanted - who would have guessed that Oct. 19? - after Mirotic's three-point play gave the Bulls a late lead.
Also terrific for the Bulls were Kris Dunn (22 points), who joined Mirotic in a co-closer's role, and Justin Holliday, who scored all 20 of his points in the first half.
He strutted and smiled when broke Dario Saric down off the dribble and hit a stepback 3-pointer. The Bulls went 2-1 straight up and 2-1 ATS in three meetings last season. Simmons has played 30-plus minutes in every game since their November 27 matchup against the Pacers, after averaging just 24.7 minutes all season coming into the contest. Markkanen has illustrated how NBA teams can draft a difference-maker without owning a top-five pick. He produces enough across the stat sheet to provide value. "It's huge seeing all the guys on the bench jumping and having fun".
The 76ers were led by Joel Embiid with 34 points, eight rebounds, six assists and two blocked shots in 49 minutes during the loss to OKC. But it's never late. History shows tanking guarantees nothing, so enjoy this mini- run that doesn't figure to last.
Meanwhile, Chicago is 8-20 SU and 14-11-3 ATS. The Sixers had an opportunity to tie it in the final seconds, but a Ben Simmons' contested layup fell short. The extent of that practice punch was practically unprecedented.
Plumlee was an interesting Fantasy option without Nikola Jokic in the lineup for the Nuggets, but Jokic returned Friday.
The 76ers rank fifth in points in the paint per game (47.4) while the Bulls rank 27th (39.3).
Hoiberg fed it right back.
Brown's biggest takeaway for Hoiberg? I'm not talking about just last season. Philadelphia got to within five in the final minute, but the Bulls took a 67-59 lead into the locker rooms.
LaMarcus Aldridge scored 19 points as the San Antonio Spurs beat the undermanned Los Angeles Clippers 109-91 in Kawhi Leonard's home debut this season.