Bulls-Pacers Preview

Indiana Pacers Status Check:
Record: 37-22
Division: 9-2
Conference: 24-12
Home Record: 24-6
Last 10 Games: 7-3
Streak: Won 1
Last game: 93-81 win over Toronto
PPG: 93.9 (25th)
Opponents PPG: 89.6 (1st)
Offensive Rating: 103.5 (21st)
Defensive Rating: 98.8 (1st)
Pace: 89.8 (26th)
Effective Field Goal Percentage: .477 (22nd)
Turnover Percentage: .144 (27th)
Defensive Rebound Percentage: .744 (8th)
Offensive Rebound Percentage: .301 (4th)
Free Throws Per Field Goal Attempt: .209 (13th)
Opp. eFG%: .446 (1st)
Opp. TO%: .129 (25th)
Opp. FT/FGA: .200 (12th)
Leading scorer: Paul George (17.8)

Stats from Basketball-Reference

Pacers Injury Report:
None

Overview:
Chicago moved a half-game ahead of Brooklyn and into a tie with Atlanta for fourth place in the Eastern Conference by beating the Nets last night. The Bulls can put a little more cushion between them and the Nets tonight when they take on third-place Indiana on the road.

The Bulls played a good game against Brooklyn last night. Chicago started slow, but the Nets faded quickly on the second night of a back-to-back and then the Bulls took over. After an early deficit, they fought back to end the first quarter in a tie, then ended the half on a 13-0 run and had the lead the rest of the way.

Chicago overcame a poor shooting night from Luol Deng (3-10) thanks to solid nights from both Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah. Kirk Hinrich, Jimmy Butler and Nate Robinson also shot relatively well from the field.

Noah didn’t have another triple-double, but he scored 21 points on 10-13 shooting to go with ten rebounds, five assists, two steals and four blocks (he also had five turnovers). Boozer tallied 20 points and five steals. It was Boozington’s third straight game scoring at least 20 points.

It’ll be great for the Bulls if he can continue that scoring run tonight. Boozer has averaged just 12.0 points in the two previous games against the Pacers.

The Bulls finally found a team that liked to turn it over more than them. Chicago scored 24 points off of 20 Brooklyn turnovers, while the Bulls turned it over 19 times.

The Bulls had a 20-point lead in the fourth quarter, but the starters, as expected, still finished the game, which ended as an eleven-point victory.

“I saw the way the game was going,” Tom Thibodeau said when asked why the starters finished. “You’re jogging back. They have a lot of 3-point shooting on the floor.”

I shouldn’t be surprised by this anymore, but for some reason I am. Thibodeau does it every game. It’s as sure to happen as an ill-advised Nate Robinson three-pointer or Carlos Boozer being made to look like a traffic cone on defense. Luckily for Thibodeau, he has the support of his current best player.

“We have a great coach but he doesn’t understand whole rest thing yet I don’t think,” Noah said. “We all want to win, so it’s all good.”

It’s good until an injury happens, or maybe even when Noah (41 minutes), Luol Deng (44) and Kirk (39) come out looking flat on the second night of a back-to-back. Stay tuned for that.

Indiana is going for their seventh win in eight games, and looking to improve to 3-0 against the Bulls this season. Their only loss during their last eight was to the Clippers, one of three losses in February. The Pacers haven’t allowed an opponent to score 100 points since a February 8 overtime loss to Toronto, though the Bulls did score 101 points the last time these two teams met.

David West struggled in the first match-up, going 3-12and managing just ten points, but he exploded the second time around, dropping 29 points on 18 shots. Marco Belinelli also went off in that February game, scoring 24 points off the bench. Noah missed the second contest, and it showed on the glass. The Bulls were out-rebounded 47-35.

Chicago has their work cut out for them on the offensive end going up against the top defense in the league. Indiana is first in defensive rating and 21st in offensive rating, while the Bulls are fourth and 23rd respectively. That probably means we are in for a low scoring game. In its last seven games, Indiana has been holding opponents to 85.6 points and 38.0 percent shooting, according to STATS LLC. The Bulls are coming off a game in which they shot 52.1 percent, their best in a long time.

Luol Deng plans to play today, even though he may need a root canal and says his bottom jaw is out of line from a Spencer Hawes elbow.

Indiana is 24-6 at home while the Bulls are 7-6 playing on no rest.

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