But even with all of those things going their way, the Bulls, who held the 76ers to just 51 points going into the fourth quarter, again wilted late, scoring just 14 points - half of the Sixers' 28 - in a 79-74 come-from-in-front loss at the Wells Fargo Center.
The win gives the 76ers a two-games-to-one advantage with Game 4 here Sunday.
Leading by 14 points with 10 minutes, 5 seconds to play in the game, the top-seeded Bulls scored just six more points the rest of the game.
Feisty all season long, the 76ers were the ones beating the Bulls to loose balls and winning all the hustle points that are so important to Chicago's formula for success.
"It's going to be will, fight, determination, and discipline," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said when asked what the Bulls must do to reverse the present court of this series. "That's playoff basketball. We have to respond better. The intensity is different."
The Bulls lost reigning MVP Derrick Rose in Game 1 with a torn anterior cruciate ligament. And now, when the series resumes here on Sunday afternoon, they are not sure about the status of center Joakim Noah.
Although he did return in the fourth quarter, Noah suffered a sprained left ankle in the third quarter. His status for Sunday's game was not known on Friday night. But the Bulls played 27 games during the regular season without Rose and won 18 of them, so this is not new terrain for them.
"Injury is a part of the game," Thibodeau said. "You have to have a mental toughness to get past that. If you look you can find something every night, every game as an excuse. You need guys that have a great will to win no matter what the circumstances are."
Not only did the Bulls finish tied with San Antonio for the best regular season record, but they were also the best road team (24-9) during the regular season.
But these are the playoffs, not the regular season. Top seeds have fallen, and they can fall again.
"We are still confident about this," Bulls reserve Kyle Korver said. "We played at our tempo and did the things that we like to do. The trouble is we just didn't keep doing them in the fourth quarter when we needed it most."
Contact staff writer John N. Mitchell at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @JmitchInquirer