Update: Carlos Boozer will return tonight and is in the starting lineup. That means Jimmy Butler will once again come off the bench.
Indiana Pacers Status Check:
Home Record: 18-3
Last 10 Games: 5-5
Streak: Won 2
Last game: 102-89 win over Miami
PPG: 92.0 (29th)
Opponents PPG: 89.9 (2nd)
Offensive Rating: 102.0 (27th)
Defensive Rating: 99.6 (1st)
Pace: 89.4 (27th)
Effective Field Goal Percentage: .470 (24th)
Turnover Percentage: .145 (26th)
Defensive Rebound Percentage: .745 (5th)
Offensive Rebound Percentage: .303 (4th)
Free Throws Per Field Goal Attempt: .197 (21st)
Opp. eFG%: .452 (1st)
Opp. TO%: .128 (26th)
Opp. FT/FGA: .192 (7th)
Leading scorer: Paul George (17.3)
Stats from Basketball-Reference
Pacers Injury Report:
Danny Granger: out (knee)
George Hill: questionable (bruised shoulder)
Originally scheduled for December 26, the Bulls and Pacers will play more than a month after their game was postponed because of weather. It isn’t the best time for the Bulls to face a tough Central Division opponent, as they are dealing with multiple injuries, but the Bulls showed in Atlanta that they can overcome missing three starters (four if you count Rose). Chicago enters Monday’s contest with a one-game lead over Indiana in the Central Division race.
Indiana is also coming off of an impressive win, theirs over the Heat. David West led the way with 30 points, seven rebounds and five assists as the Pacers topped Miami for the second time this season. Paul George and Lance Stephenson both scored 16 points on 6-11 shooting and Tyler Hansbrough finished with eleven points off the bench.
Perhaps the good news for the Bulls is that Roy Hibbert scored seven points on 3-8 shooting. The Bulls will probably be without Joakim Noah, and perhaps Carlos Boozer again, so the fewer bigs Chicago has to worry about the better. Hibbert is averaging 11.3 points on 47.4 percent shooting over his last ten games.
Tom Thibodeau has decided he would rather play small, with Luol Deng at the four and Taj Gibson at center, than give any time to Nazr Mohammed. Mohammed played eight minutes against the Nets, scoring four points, before Thibs decided that was enough.
Going small is not an issue in itself. The Bulls beat the Hawks that way, and Al Horford is a good center. The Heat won the Finals last season going small. The only issue with it is that those “small” guys are playing too many minutes.
Deng played 93:41 and Gibson played 93:13 out of a possible 96 minutes in a back-to-back situation. And that situation wasn’t the NBA Finals. Nate Robinson played 81 minutes and Jimmy Butler played 85. The win was more than impressive, and even the way Chicago fought against the Nets was surprising, but there is a chance these high minutes could cause more injuries, then who do the Bulls turn to?
Mohammaed and Daequan Cook each got “DNP Coach’s Decision” against Atlanta. Playing on no rest, with ten healthy bodies, you’d think everyone would at least get a little run. But apparently that’s not “Thibs Ball,” as basically six guys did all the work. Marquis Teague played seven minutes and Vladimir Radmanovic played five against the Hawks. Similar to Nazr’s eight and Teague’s seven against the Nets.
And again, this isn’t to take anything away from the Bulls. They fought hard both games, ultimately coming up short against the Nets when they ran out of gas. They got some help from the Hawks, in that Atlanta didn’t play its best basketball. The Bulls won the rebounding battle 53-45 in a game which they were playing small.
Two of the NBA’s best defenses face off in this one, with the first (Indiana) and fourth (Chicago) best squads when it comes to defensive rating. The Pacers are first in opponent effective field goal percentage (.452) and the Bulls are second (.459).
Chicago hasn’t allowed its opponent to score 100 points since January 16, and has held opponents to less than 90 points in eight of the past nine games (Brooklyn scored 93). The Bulls are 6-3 in those games.
The Pacers have allowed 100 points in three of their last 17 games. Those three games resulted in a three-game losing skid, against the Trail Blazers, Jazz and Nuggets. Indy has rebounded, giving up 79 to the Pistons and 89 to the Heat (Miami is 3rd in offensive efficiency and averages 102.4 per game).
Indiana is tied for the fourth best home record in the league, at 18-3. The Bulls still have the best road record at 14-7.
Trending up: David West and Paul George are both shooting well over their last ten games. West is 53.5 percent over his last ten, up from 48.5 and George has improved from 42.7 percent on the season to 44.5 over the last ten.