Bulls-Pacers Preview

Indiana Pacers Status Check:
Record: 23-12
Division: 3-2
Conference: 15-9
Road Record: 12-8
Last 10 Games: 6-4
Streak: Won 6
Last game: 102-84 win over New Orleans
PPG: 95.9 (13th)
Opponents PPG: 91.9 (8th)
Offensive Rating: 104.3 (11th)
Defensive Rating: 100.0 (6th)
Pace: 91.4 (18th)
Effective Field Goal Percentage: .465 (24th)
Turnover Percentage: .137 (11th)
Defensive Rebound Percentage: .728 (19th)
Offensive Rebound Percentage: .295 (5th)
Free Throws Per Field Goal Attempt: .251 (3rd)
Opp. eFG%: .465 (7th)
Opp. TO%: .150 (7th)
Opp. FT/FGA: .217 (17th)
Leading scorer: Danny Granger (18.3)

Stats from Basketball-Reference

Pacers Injury Report:
Jeff Foster: doubtful for tonight’s game (sore lower back)

Overview:
Chicago takes their six game winning streak back to the United Center to face off against the Pacers, winners of six straight themselves. Indiana is one of only two teams to beat Chicago at the United Center this season (the other being New Jersey…hold on one second I need to throw up thinking about that New Jersey game).

And while the Bulls got revenge with a win against Philadelphia for a loss earlier in the season, they will be even hungrier tonight.

After the Pacers beat Chicago earlier this year, Indiana celebrated on the United Center court. Joakim Noah doesn’t think Rose will forget about that celebration on his home court, and nobody out-celebrates Jo.

“Derrick gets hype off people celebrating,” Noah said after the Bulls 96-91 win over the Sixers. “When people talk about celebration, you’re not going to out-celebrate me. Roy Hibbert cannot out-celebrate me, so if they want to see some celebration, when we win, I can show them some celebration.”

Well, those are fighting words. Or dancing words, I’m not sure which.

Either way, the Bulls are clearly pumped up, and if the Pacers weren’t already, that quote from Noah will help. But really, these two teams should always be excited to play each other because their games are always hard fought.

Indy’s current six game win streak followed up a five game losing streak they had from February 8-15. And while a six game win streak sounds great, the Pacers haven’t beaten any teams that are good. Or that are close to good really.

As a matter of fact, the best team they beat was Golden State who has a .412 win percentage. Their other wins came against New Jersey, Charlotte (twice) and New Orleans (twice). Now six wins in a row are still six wins in a row, but Indy is about to get an opponent upgrade.

That isn’t to say Indiana is a bad team, because that would be stupid. The Pacers are third place in the Eastern Conference, four games back of Miami and six back of Chicago. They can only beat the team that is on the other side of the court, and they’ve been doing that all year. And they have been dominating their opponents during their current streak. Indiana is outscoring opponents by 17.5 per game during this win streak, according to STATS LLC.

Their schedule is about to get a lot harder though, with games against Chicago (road), Atlanta, Miami (road), Orlando (road), Portland and Philadelphia.

Indiana is currently 12-8 on the road, while Chicago is 14-2 at home.

This is also the second night of a back-to-back for the Bulls. Chicago is 10-2 with no rest this season. The Bulls heavy minutes from their win in Philly could play a part today. Luol Deng (43 minutes), Rose (42 minutes and all of the offensive possessions) and Noah (38) logged heavy minutes. The Pacers had Sunday off and are 12-5 with one day of rest.

Luol Deng: Deng didn’t play great yesterday, scoring just eight points on 3-11 shooting to go with two rebounds and four assists. But Andre Iguodala didn’t have the best game either, scoring 14 points (6-15 from the field) and recording six rebounds and six assists.

Deng has another tough match-up tonight against Danny Granger. Granger scored a team-high 22 points on 9-16 shooting and also grabbed nine rebounds in the first Bulls-Pacers game, while Luol Deng watched from the bench with an injured wrist.

After underwhelming performance last night, Deng needs to step up and at least contain Granger. And it would be nice if he scored in double digits.

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