Pacers-Bulls preview

Indiana Pacers Status Check:
Record: 11-11
Division: 2-2
Conference: 7-6
Road Record: 5-6
Last game: Lost 97-83 @ Atlanta
Last 10 Games: 5-5
PPG: 99.6 (16th)
Opponents PPG: 97.4 (13th)
Offensive Rating: 105.0 (20th)
Defensive Rating: 102.6 (9th)
Pace: 94.5 (7th)
Effective Field Goal Percentage: .504 (11th)
Turnover Percentage: .146 (25th)
Defensive Rebound Percentage: .741 (18th)
Offensive Rebound Percentage: .225 (27th)
Free Throws Per Field Goal Attempt: .209 (28th)
Opp. eFG%: .462 (2nd)
Opp. TO%: .130 (24th)
Opp. FT/FGA: .261 (23rd)

Stats from

With the ongoing mediocrity of the Pistons (7-18), the hapless fall of the LeBron James-less Cavaliers (7-17), and the surprising ineptitude (if you really didn’t know what to expect from Corey Maggette, Drew Gooden and pre-trade deadline John Salmons) of the Bucks (9-13), the Pacers have emerged as Chicago’s closest rival in the Central Division.

Who would’ve thought?

The Pacers have been in freefall for years. In the six seasons after Ron Artest got hit by a Diet Coke in Detroit, the Pacers went from 61 wins to 44, 41, 35, 36, 36 and 32 wins.

But this season, the Pacers have shown real signs of progress. During the 2009-10 campaign, they didn’t win their 11th game until January 5, by which time they were 11-23 andvirtually out of playoff contention. As of today, they’re in 7th place in the Eastern Conference.

Of course, that doesn’t mean there isnt some drama going on in Indy. Pacers coach Jim O’Brien has been benching starting point guard Darren Collison in favor of T.J. Ford and even A.J. Price. In fact, Price played in place of Collison for the entire fourth quarter of the Pacers’ loss in Atlanta on Friday night.

Said Collison: “I don’t know why I didn’t play. I’m not going to lie, it’s been tough. Right now, I’m not used to it. It is what it is.”

It’s hard to figure. Collison is shooting 41 percent from downtown — compared to only 27 and 25 percent for Ford and Price, respectively — and Ford’s Player Efficiency Rating (9.0) and Offensive Rating (89) are so bad it’s hard to believe he’s still in the rotation. As for Price, he’s appeared in only five games this season. How’d he earn the crunch time PT?

Said O’Brien: “I thought our best chance of coming back was with A.J. in the game because he spaces the court, he shoots the 3 and he also needed playing time. I also think he did a nice job.”

Price is 3-for-12 on threes this season. I’m just sayin’.

Well, with all due respect, whoever plays at the point for Indy will probably end up getting eaten alive by Derrick Rose. In his last five games against the Pacers, Rose has averaged 24.6 points and 55.4 percent shooting. On the season, Derrick is ranked 4th in PPG (25.1), 8th in Assist Percentage (40.5) and 9th in APG (8.1).

But that’s not all. After hitting a career-best five three-pointers (in only six attempts) against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday night, Rose is shooting 41.6 percent from downtown and 64.0 percent (16-for-25) during Chicago’s current five-game winning streak.

And to think: People used to say he couldn’t shoot.

Said Rose: “I’m trying to show everybody what I’m working on. You want to show opponents new things so when they’re going to play you, they know it’s going to be a hard night.”

Rose has scored 20 or more points in 16 of the 21 games he’s played this season. He’s had seven games of 30 or more points. So, yeah, anybody who plays against Rose is in for a hard night. About the only thing Derrick hasn’t done is figure out a way to get to the free throw line consistently. When that happens…look out.

Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau will have to figure out something to do about Danny Granger. After all, Granger has averaged 28.0 PPG in his last five games against the Bulls. That said, Granger is having a bit of a down year. His PER has dropped from 19.8 to 16.8 and he’s having a rough December: 6 games, 16.8 PPG, 35 percent shooting, and only 22 percent on threes.

And his last game — during which he went 3-for-14 from the field and 0-for-5 from beyond the arc — was one of his worst shooting performances of the season.

Concerns about Granger aside, Chicago’s real challenge will be shooting the basketball. Pacers opponents are shooting only 42.8 percent of their shots from the field this season. That’s the second-best FGP defense in the league, barely trailing the Miami Heat, who hold their opponents to 42.7 percent shooting.

Indy is getting it done with defense. No question about it.

The Bulls will need to be aggressive. Opponents don’t shoot well against the Pacers…but they go to the line. Indiana has given up 621 free throw attempts this season. That’s the ninth-most in the league. And eight-place Portland has given up only three more foul shots. It’s a weakness the Bulls need to exploit. Unfortunately, Chicago ranks 20th in total free throw attempts and a dismal 24th in Free Throws Per Field Goal Attempt.

Let’s hope that can change tonight.

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11 Responses to Pacers-Bulls preview

  1. TBF December 13, 2010 at 6:34 pm #

    Sounds like we want to get to the line and be physical with them. To me, that sounds like a heavy diet of Boozington, posting up early and often.

  2. Matt December 13, 2010 at 8:12 pm #

    I’m just wondering, how many fouls would Derrick Rose be getting called if he was little more vocal. I’m all for his quite and respectful playing style, but what does it say about the NBA if that is keeping him from reaching his full potential? Almost wish we had a standard star player if only to have someone constantly bitching to the officials about every little tap the opposing team gives.

  3. PGHCager December 13, 2010 at 8:49 pm #

    Just to let you know, another site noticed that while the Pacers have good stats, their SOS is atrociuos, so they’re padding their defensive stats against lesser opponents.

  4. Inception December 13, 2010 at 9:17 pm #

    MJ barked at non-calls…i think DRose might have to start doing it too.

    Gorditadog December 13, 2010 at 9:21 pm #

    Yep, let’s see what Carlos can do tonight.

    I like the idea of a team captain that can talk to the refs. I’m not sure what the rules are now, but I’ve seen some players go over to the refs after a call and talk with them- LeBron seems to always be talking to the refs.

    BFD December 13, 2010 at 9:29 pm #

    What needs to happen is Coach Thibs needs to get fined after a high profile loss for complaining about the refs not calling it when Derrick gets fouled. Then the national media will cover it, and look at the tape and chime in which will put the pressure on the refs to call it square.

    Chuck December 13, 2010 at 9:38 pm #

    Please keep in mind that the rules don’t apply to LeBron.

  8. TBF December 13, 2010 at 11:52 pm #

    It’s not that Derrick doesn’t tell the officials that he’s getting fouled. As has been said over and over, it’s the fact that it never looks like he gets fouled. You can whack him in the air, but his balance, strength and athleticism are so incredible that he simply makes the basket anyways and doesn’t appear to have been fouled. Plus, he’s moving so quickly that, at game speed, unless you’re right on top of it, you might not even see the foul.

    I agree, I think he gets fouled more than is called. But, on the other hand, you can’t ask the refs to just whistle half his drives at random. I think he’s partially a victim of his own amazing abilities.

  9. Nikhil December 14, 2010 at 12:32 am #

    Update: Granger not playing.

    Forget about this one, Bulls win in a romp.

    chitown4life December 14, 2010 at 9:23 am #

    Wow last night me and all of the bulls fans held there breath and stayed in prayer mode when derrick went down not only once but twice in pain as if it might be something major, but along with the entire bulls team and season probally on the line he got up and finshed the game yes he is hurt but at least nothing is broken so he is young and will heal probally fast well outside of the bulls winning and boozer doing good Rose as usual a true star the motor that makes this team go showed us again why the bulls drafted him and each day makes me just want to say thank you lord for small miricles letting us win the number one pick the night which decided D Rose fate home town home bound he was and for that I have become rejuvinated with the aspect that this team with D rose leading it can and will win a championship maybe multipl ones but for sure at least one and that time I think is sooner rather than later, he guides this team to the finals oh well thanks God for not letting anything be broken on D rose. peace

    Scottie Pippen December 14, 2010 at 10:31 am #

    yeah when he sprained his ankle you can hear the whole stadium gasp for air, literally. even i was like “oh no”

    the g.o.a.t still influencing the game, i dont think rose would be this focused

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