Bulls-Pacers Preview

Indiana Pacers Status Check:
Record: 11-5
Division: 2-1
Conference: 9-4
Road Record: 6-4
Last 10 Games: 7-3
Streak: Lost 1
Last game: 102-83 loss to Orlando
PPG: 92.6 (19th)
Opponents PPG: 90.5 (6th)
Offensive Rating: 101.4 (18th)
Defensive Rating: 99.1 (6th)
Pace: 90.7 (21st)
Effective Field Goal Percentage: .452 (28th)
Turnover Percentage: .147 (18th)
Defensive Rebound Percentage: .714 (28th)
Offensive Rebound Percentage: .296 (3rd)
Free Throws Per Field Goal Attempt: .249 (5th)
Opp. eFG%: .453 (3rd)
Opp. TO%:  .143 (13th)
Opp. FT/FGA: .206 (11th)
Leading scorer: Danny Granger (16.1)

Stats from Basketball-Reference

Pacers Injury Report:
Jeff Foster: expected to miss at least two weeks (back)

Chicago takes on their first real test in quite some time as they try to stay undefeated in the United Center against the visiting Pacers. Apparently the Bulls couldn’t play sub-.500 teams forever (I guess the NBA couldn’t schedule it that way, although I’m sure Gar Forman requested it), so Chicago takes on the 11-5 Pacers in Chicago.

Indiana is on the second night of a back-to-back though, after losing to Orlando last night. The Pacers were perfect from the line (18-18), but shot only 39.7 percent from the field. Danny Granger and Roy Hibbert each scored 16 points, while Darren Collison pitched in eleven more. But the Pacers only had eight assists and allowed the Magic to shoot 40.6 percent from three (13-32).

The Bulls might not benefit from the Pacers’ tired legs though, since Indiana’s starters didn’t play huge minutes. Most played right around 30 minutes with the exception of Paul George who played 35.

The Bulls had a full day of rest and are extremely good defensively at home this year, holding opponents to 76.9 points on 39.3 percent shooting. Now they haven’t been playing the crème of the NBA at home, but it’s still impressive.

However, Chicago will once again be short-handed. And this time, on the injury carousel, it’s Taj Gibson and Luol Deng who will be sitting out. Deng’s injury is more serious than previously thought, but he doesn’t need surgery.

The team that was once praised for their depth is learning to play with fewer guys, and more importantly, is finding new players to step up each game.

Against the Nets, Brian Scalabrine played 23 minutes, scored five points, grabbed three rebounds and dished four assists. Now, “Scalabrine played 23 minutes” is something I never thought I’d type, but he did alright. He isn’t close to Gibson’s or Deng’s productivity, but he did enough. And that’s all the Bulls have to do to get through this injury patch. They need to plug the gaps, so the ship doesn’t go down while awaiting the return of key players.

Back to tonight’s match-up, Indiana is sixth in defensive rating this year, posting a 99.1 defensive rating. Chicago is second in that category (96.2). Indy is holding opponents to the third worst effective field goal percentage (.453).

But the Bulls are actually first in offensive rating, so we will see how the Bulls can score against a very good defense. The Bulls won’t have all of their players though, so their offense won’t be as strong as it could be. Deng and Gibson are big helps on the offensive side of the ball, compared to their back-ups.

Chicago was 3-1 in the regular season against the Pacers last year, their only loss coming in overtime. In the four games, Rose averaged 27.0 points (43 percent shooting), 5.8 rebounds and 6.5 assists. In two games against Indiana, Noah averaged 14.5 points and (only) four rebounds. Boozer went for 20.0 points and 11.3 rebounds in three regular season games against Indiana.

For Indy, Granger averaged 20 points and six rebounds in three games against Chicago. Collison scored 11.8 points and dished 5.3 assists while Hibbert added 6.3 points and 5.5 rebounds.

The Bulls also beat the Pacers in the first round of the playoffs 4-1. All the games, with the exception of the deciding game, were within six points, so the Pacers played Chicago hard. Rose averaged 27.6 points, 6.2 assists and 4.6 rebounds, but he only shot 37.1 percent from the field. As everyone remembers, the playoffs were when lots of people disappeared for Chicago, and opponents keyed on Rose.

Boozer averaged ten points, 10.2 rebounds and 2.8 turnovers while shooting 35.8 percent, or what Jazz fans like to call “Playoff Boozer.” Noah averaged 12.0 points, 10.6 rebounds, 2.6 blocks and 1.8 assists.

For the Pacers, Danny Granger scored 21.6 points, grabbed 5.6 rebounds and threw 3.2 assists per game in the playoff series. Roy Hibbert averaged 10.4 points and 6.8 rebounds though the five games.

These two teams also played each other in the shortened preseason. The Bulls beat the Pacers in both preseason games this year, but those are preseason games. Something to watch for from these games, though, will be whether Tyler Hansbrough can once again make Chicago’s defense look silly. Psycho-T went for 19 points and eleven rebounds in the first preseason matchup, and 24 and 13 in the second.

Chicago will have to deal with another power forward, David West, who was signed this offseason by the Pacers. West is averaging 11.4 points and 6.6 rebounds so far this season. West scored eight points and grabbed four boards in the second preseason matchup, after sitting out the first game.

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