Pacers-Bulls Preview

Indiana Pacers Status Check:
Record: 42-23
Division: 9-3
Conference: 29-18
Home Record: 23-9
Last 10 Games: 8-2
Streak: Won 1
Last game: 103-97 win over Detroit
PPG: 97.9 (10th)
Opponents PPG: 94.4 (10th)
Offensive Rating: 106.8 (8th)
Defensive Rating: 103.1 (10th)
Pace: 90.8 (19th)
Effective Field Goal Percentage: .474 (24th)
Turnover Percentage: .131 (7th)
Defensive Rebound Percentage: .722 (23rd)
Offensive Rebound Percentage: .294 (5th)
Free Throws Per Field Goal Attempt: .253 (2nd)
Opp. eFG%: .476 (6th)
Opp. TO%: .142 (10th)
Opp. FT/FGA: .224 (22nd)
Leading scorer: Danny Granger (18.7)

Stats from Basketball-Reference

Indiana Injury Report:
Danny Granger: expected to miss tonight’s game (strained knee)
George Hill: questionable for tonight’s game (bruised shoulder)

Overview:
It no longer matters if the Bulls win or lose their last two games of the regular season. Thanks to the Heat losing to the Celtics, Chicago has secured the top seed in the East, and home-court advantage. The Bulls are tied with San Antonio for home-court advantage for the entire playoffs, but they can cross that bridge when they get there (the Spurs play Phoenix and Golden State to finish out their season).

So now the Bulls can rest whomever they want. But it’s hard to be sure if Tom Thibodeau believes in rest. It would be nice if the Bulls’ starters could get some time in the game, but is it worth the possibility of injury? Rip Hamilton has barely played all season, Derrick Rose has injured every part of his body and Luol Deng has an injured wrist.

Add to that Carlos “Fragile” Boozer, and the smart decision may be to rest the starters.

The Bulls still need to work on chemistry between their starters. Rose-Hamilton-Deng-Boozer-Noah line-up has played only 166 minutes together. That line-up is 12-2 when they start together though (losing to the Warriors in December and in overtime against the Knicks on April 8, which was Rose’s first game back after missing 12 straight).

I’d like to see the starters get about 20 minutes together, preferably no more than that, but I’m fine with ten as well. The Bulls need a sharp Derrick Rose, and a tight-knit starting group. Or as much of that as they can get in the final two games.

The Pacers also have the luxury of resting, because they already secured the number three seed in the playoffs. Tonight will be Indiana’s last game of the regular season. Indy topped the Pistons on Monday night, while resting three of their starters. Danny Granger, Roy Hibbert and George Hill all sat out of the Pacer’s six point win.

Paul George went 13-15 from the line and finished with 27 points and ten rebounds. David West scored 20 points, while Tyler Hansbrough and Leandro Barbosa finished with 13 each. Darren Collison, who has been replaced in the starting line-up by Hill, finished an ugly 1-8 from the field, with six turnovers.

The Bulls and Pacers split the season series thus far, with both games being played in Chicago. These games probably will be very different than tonight, but we might as well break down those two match-ups anyway, as the Bulls and Pacers could potentially meet in the post-season.

Indy beat the Bulls in late January, with the Bulls missing Luol Deng. Chicago got their revenge in early March, this time with the team at full strength for an entire minute, until Rip Hamilton injured his shoulder.

The biggest difference between the two games was Chicago’s bench. In game one, the Bulls bench combined to score eight points on 3-13 shooting. In the second matchup, with a lot more minutes because they were playing better, the Bulls bench combined to drop 46 points, on 18-34 shooting (52.9 percent).

In that second game the Bulls were able to overcome 17 turnovers, thanks to their bench and also to their dominance on the glass. Chicago out-rebounded the Pacers 60-32. The entire Indiana starting line-up grabbed 19 rebounds, while Joakim Noah brought down 17 himself. The Bulls also had an 18-7 advantage on the offensive boards.

The Bulls had a lot of time off since their last game. Chicago hasn’t played since their win over Dallas on Saturday. Chicago was fully healthy for this one, and that health lasted longer than one minute. Derrick Rose wasn’t great in his return, but he was still effective, scoring 11 points, while shooting 5-9.

Luol Deng and Rip Hamilton picked up the slack, combining for 41 points on 17-31 from the field.

Chicago is 1-0 this season with three or more days of rest.

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