Pacers-Bulls Preview

Indiana Pacers Status Check:
Record: 8-9
Division: 0-1
Conference: 3-5
Road Record: 4-7
Last 10 Games: 5-5
Streak: Lost 1
Last game: 103-92 loss to Golden State
PPG: 90.9 (29th)
Opponents PPG: 91.9 (3rd)
Offensive Rating: 98.7 (29th)
Defensive Rating: 99.8 (2nd)
Pace: 90.4 (26th)
Effective Field Goal Percentage: .454 (27th)
Turnover Percentage: .147 (24th)
Defensive Rebound Percentage: .752 (3rd)
Offensive Rebound Percentage: .284 (10th)
Free Throws Per Field Goal Attempt: .204 (19th)
Opp. eFG%: .442 (1st)
Opp. TO%: .117 (30th)
Opp. FT/FGA: .210 (17th)
Leading scorer: David West (18.0)

Stats from Basketball-Reference

Pacers Injury Report:
Danny Granger: out (sore left knee)
Jeff Pendergraph: out indefinitely (concussion)

The Pacers and Bulls were each already without their best player. Now Chicago is also without their second leading scorer, Rip Hamilton. Rip is out indefinitely with a torn plantar fascia.

Thibs said Tuesday that Marco Belinelli will start in place of Rip Hamilton. The Bulls go from Rip, who was shooting 45.5 percent, to Belinelli, who is shooting 36.8 percent. Possibly the worst part about Rip being out is a shortened bench that will somehow lead to more minutes for Luol Deng.

And it makes it even worse that the Bulls have to take on a great defensive team the first game Rip is out. Indiana is second in defensive rating (99.8) and first in opponent effective field goal percentage (.442).

The Bulls already had trouble scoring even with Rip in the lineup, ranking just 20th in offensive rating (102.9) and 25th in effective field goal percentage (.465).

The good news though is that the Pacers have been pretty terrible on the offensive side of the ball. Indy ranks 29th in offensive rating (98.7) and 27th in effective field goal percentage (.454).

What I’m trying to say is this could be one terribly low scoring game filled with tons of missed shots. David Stern should look into fining these teams for the product they are putting on the court.

David West is one of the few bright spots for the Pacers’ struggling offense so far this season. The power forward is shooting 49.2 percent from the field and averaging 17.8 points per game.

“He’s playing at an All-Star level right now,” Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. “There’s no other way to look at it. He’s carrying the load.”

West is picking up the slack for Roy Hibbert whose numbers are down. Hibbert is averaging just 9.7 points on 39.0 percent shooting. Hibbert shot 49.7 percent last season.

It hasn’t been easy to score against Chicago lately, as the Bulls have been getting back to what they are built for. The Bulls have held opponents under 93 points their last five games. Now Chicago is only 3-2 in those matchups, but it’s a good sign that their defense is getting back on track. Before this five game stretch, the Bulls had allowed 100 points to four straight opponents.

“The thing for us is to concentrate on improvement,” Thibodeau said. “We are moving in the right direction. We are still not a 48-minute team. There were stretches where we played well defensively, we have to do it consistently throughout the game.”

Chicago is also owning the glass again. They outrebounded Philly 50-37 last time out, and are ranked fifth in offensive rebounding percentage (.312) and sixth in defensive rebound rate (.741).

The Bulls have won their last two home games, putting them at 5-4 when playing in the United Center. The Pacers have played poorly away from home, going just 4-7.

The Pacers were a popular pick to be the second place team in the East after Rose went down, but they’ve struggled early without Danny Granger. The Bulls are in a similar position, except their expectations were a lot lower. With a lot of the season left, these two teams could be fighting for the top of the Central Divsion all year…and that says a lot about the strength of the Central Division.

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