Indiana Pacers at Chicago BullPreview
This Central Division matchup is between two teams that both suffered double-digit losses on Thursday night. The Bulls actually upset the Pacers at home in their first meeting, but I wouldn’t bet on that happening again even though the Pacers aren’t necessarily playing their best basketball right now. This would be a big momentum win for either team. Domantas Sabonis is coming off a huge game against the Heat and is facing a team that is missing their primary rim defender in Wendell Carter Jr. Zach LaVine has really been carrying this Bulls team all year and just put up 32 points Wednesday night. The Pacers are looking to bounce back from a stretch that has seen them lose 3 of the last 4. The Bulls are also looking for some momentum attempting to snap a 5-game losing streak.
Time: 7:00 PM
Arena: United Center, Chicago, IL
Channel: NBC Sports Chicago, Fox Sports Midwest
Pacers: Malcolm Brogdon (Questionable, missed Wednesday’s game), Victor Oladipo (Out), Naz Mitrou-Long (Out)
Bulls: Wendell Carter (Out), Otto Porter (Out)
Indiana Pacers Starting Lineup
PG: Aaron Holiday
SG: Jeremy Lamb
SF: T.J. Warren
PF: Domantas Sabonis
C: Myles Turner
The Pacers are coming off of a 14-point loss to a very good Miami Heat team and have a prime opportunity to get themselves back on the right track. The Pacers will still be without star Victor Oladipo until the end of the month and first-year Pacer Malcolm Brogdon will most likely miss Friday night’s tilt as well.
Even without two of their primary scorers Indiana still has a huge advantage over this struggling Bulls team. There were some bright spots with the Pacers in the loss against the Heat on Wednesday, most notable Domantas Sabonis. Sabonis had a stellar game contributing 27 points, 14 rebounds, and 6 assists, on an extremely efficient 10-13 from the field. With Wendell Carter out Sabonis, as well as Myles Turner, should be able to have a huge impact in the paint and on the boards against a Bulls team that was just outrebounded 50-39 by the Pelicans.
Indiana will get a full game from T.J. Warren, unlike Wednesday night when he was ejected after getting into it with Jimmy Butler in the 3rd quarter. The key to the Pacers will be to get Sabonis and possible Turner going early on the interior. Indiana has attempted the second least 3-pointers in the NBA and should keep it that way on Friday against Chicago’s lackluster interior defense.
Chicago Bulls Starting Lineup
PG: Tomas Satoransky
SG: Kris Dunn
SF: Zach LaVine
PF: Thaddeus Young
C: Lauri Markkanen
The Bulls are coming off of a terrible performance against an equally underwhelming New Orleans Pelicans team. Both teams played poor basketball in the first half and the Bulls got blown out in the 3rd quarter which has become a staple of the season. Chicago was outscored 44-27 in the 3rd which as I mentioned the Bulls coming out flat in the second half has been one of the few constants for the Bulls this season. I am not sure if it is a lack of Jim Boylen making adjustments at half or just a lack of player motivation, but it cannot continue if they want to win games.
The Bulls will once again be without Wendell Carter which proved to be very problematic on the defensive end as well as the boards. Boylen went with Thaddeus Young to replace him in the starting lineup and bumped Markkanen to the 5 which was problematic. Derrick Favors took advantage of the Markkanen matchup and Sabonis will have a field day on Friday if Boylen stays with this lineup instead of inserting rookie Daniel Gafford at the center spot.
Zach LaVine was one of the lone bright spots for Chicago adding 32 points on 13-24 form the field. Kris Dunn also had one of his best games of the year putting up 14 points, 7 assists, and 5 steals. Dunn made a season-high 3 3-pointers on 50% shooting from deep compared to his woefully 23% on the season. This is something the Bulls need Dunn to do consistently because teams have been sagging off of him all year and clogging up the paint.
Key Player Matchups
Domantas Sabonis vs the Bulls Frontcourt
It will be interesting to see how the Bulls will go at defending Sabonis. If Chicago runs out the same starters as Wednesday, then it should be a good day for Sabonis. Neither Thaddeus Young or Lauri Markkanen will be effective defenders on Sabonis, and Daniel Gafford only played 16 minutes Wednesday despite being the only true center that player meaningful for the Bulls.
As you can tell from this preview, I think Sabonis is a great play and should produce a very good stat line. I think there is a lot of potential value in Myles Turner as well as Daniel Gafford but Gafford is a risky option considering Jim Boylen’s questionable rotations.
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