Chicago Bulls at Indiana Pacers Preview
Two central division foes will go at it on Wednesday night. The Bulls will look to notch their first win of the season series that currently sits at 0-2. Chicago is on its first string of consecutive wins since December 21st. The injury-riddled Bulls have beaten the likes of the Cavaliers and San Antonio over their last two contest. Chicago, while struggling, now sit just two games back of the 8th seeded Nets with a record of 19-30. Indiana has been rolling as of late going 7-3 in their last 10 but dropped their last contest 139-129 Sunday night against the Blazers. The Pacers have dealt with some injury issues of their own and will have Victor Oladipo available to play for the first time this season. Oladipo is expected to come off the bench with a minutes restriction but could still make a huge impact for Indiana. Malcolm Brogdon is also questionable after missing their last two games.
Time: 6 PM CST
Arena: Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, IN
Channel: NBC Sports Chicago, Fox Sports Indiana
Bulls: Wendell Carter (Out), Daniel Gafford (Out), Lauri Markkanen (Out), Otto Porter (Out)
Pacers: Malcolm Brogdon (Questionable), T.J. Leaf (Questionable), Victor Oladipo (Probable), Myles Turner (Out)
Chicago Bulls Starting Lineup
With all the injury issues as of late, you would think this Bulls team would be struggling but they are actually playing arguably their best basketball so far this year. This isn’t to say they have been world-beaters which is clear based on their 19-30 record, but they have been surprisingly successful as of late compared to earlier in the season. Chicago has won their last two games and has gone 6-4 over their last 10 which is their best 10-game streak this season.
The Bulls have been better as of late in large part to Zach LaVine’s performance. He scored 23 points on Monday against the Spurs to extend his streak of 20-point games to 15 games. Although, LaVine was scoring it wasn’t his best shooting night going 7-22 from the field, but his supporting cast was able to pick up the slack. The Bulls overcame a 10-point lead going into the 4th in large part due to guys filling holes left by injuries.
Chicago put forth a balanced scoring attack with seven players in double figures. Denzel Valentine gave the Bulls a huge lift off the bench scoring 16 points and adding 3 assists on the road to +19 game. Valentine has been on the end of Boylen’s for some reason despite playing well when given the opportunity. Valentine is arguable the Bulls best 3-point shooter, on a team that is 20th in 3-point percentage in the league and may finally get consistent playing time with the Bulls litany of injuries. Although Chicago has been playing better basketball of late, this will be a tough matchup against a hot Pacers team.
Indiana Pacers Starting Lineup
The Pacers have done a great job of protecting their home court going 17-5 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse up to this point. Indiana is coming off a loss to Portland but has been hot of late and is not too far removed from a 5-game win streak. The Pacers have been able to put together wins amongst injuries but will be getting some help back.
Victor Oladipo will be making his season debut against the Bulls on Wednesday. Oladipo is expected to come off the bench tonight and should see around 20 minutes with the Pacers playing it safe with him on a strict minutes restriction. Despite Oladipo playing on a minutes restriction, I wouldn’t be surprised if he makes an immediate impact as we saw Zion Williamson do in his mid-season debut. Malcolm Brogdon is also questionable to play Wednesday after missing the last two game while being in the concussion protocol. Brogdon has missed 14 games this year with multiple injuries and the Pacers will get a huge boost of him and Oladipo being healthy at the same time.
Although the Pacers lost to Portland on Sunday, the shorthanded squad had some bright spots. Sabonis has continued to roll and has become the team’s most important player in Oladipo’s absences. Sabonis recorded his 2nd triple-double of the year (27 points, 14 rebounds, 11 assists) and is averaging 18 points to go along with nearly 13 rebounds on the year. Sabonis will continue to get increased opportunities with Turner and Leaf out. The Pacers should be in a position to take advantage of a struggling; injured Bulls team despite their better play as of late.
Key Player Matchups
Zach LaVine vs Jeremy Lamb
This key matchup is a bit of an interesting one. LaVine has been the centerpiece of the Bulls offense and Lamb will be slowing losing time as Oladipo works his way back into the lineup. The two will be huge indicators of the way the game goes. If LaVine struggles the Bulls will most likely struggle. Lamb scored 28 points in Indy’s last game and would be a huge boost to the Pacers if he can repeat a similar performance.
One DFS play for me is Domantas Sabonis even with Oladipo and possibly Brogdon returning. They will not take away from Sabonis’ opportunities on the interior and Turner still being sidelined will ensure a lot of minutes. As for a riskier value pick, I like Denzel Valentine. He only played 19 minutes last game but Boylen has no reason to not continue to give him legit minutes especially if he keeps producing offensively.
Bet on Matchup
If you’re in Pennsylvania, you can bet on this matchup. Sports betting is legal in PA. Our top-rated online sportsbook bonus offers can be found in our articles: Fanduel Sportsbook promo code, DraftKings Sportsbook promo code & Pointsbet promo code.