Indiana (23-12, won last six) @ Chicago (31-8, won last six)
* 97.69 points per game (7th in the NBA) vs. 88.26 points allowed per game (2nd)
* 46.1% FG (4th) vs. 42.4% FG allowed (4th)
* 45.62 rpg (2nd) vs. 40.33 rebounds allowed (4th)
*23.26 apg (1st) vs. 14.03 TO pg (4th)
* 95.89 ppg (13th) vs. 91.89 points allowed (8th)
* 43% FG (24th) vs. 42.6% FG allowed (7th)
* 44.49 rppg (3rd) vs. 42.4 rebounds allowed (20th)
* 18.06 appg (27th) vs. 14.74 TO pg (13th)
PG-Darren Collison vs. Derrick Rose
SG-Paul George vs. Richard Hamilton
SF-Danny Granger vs. Luol Deng
PF-David West vs. Carlos Boozer
C-Roy Hibbert vs. Joakim Noah
Chicago-C.J. Watson, Taj Gibson, Ronnie Brewer, Omer Asik, Kyle Korver
Indiana-Tyler Hansbrough, A.J. Price, Dahntay Jones, George Hill, Jeff Foster
Injuries of note
Indiana-Jeff Foster (back, day to day)
“When people talk about celebration, I just feel like, ‘You’re not going to out-celebrate me.’ Roy Hibbert cannot out-celebrate me. So if they want to see some celebration when we win, I can show them some celebration. I know how to celebrate.”
Prediction: Bulls 96, Indiana 89
The Bulls won’t overlook Indiana this time, and if they can get a big lead by halftime, expect them to close the deal. It will be a tough couple of weeks for Indiana, as the Pacers play 8 games vs. winning teams over the next 13 days. It’s crucial that the Pacers set the tone for the week tonight, and build confidence headed into the most brutal scheduling stretch of the season. But it’s not imperative, nor should it be expected, that they can shock one of the league’s most elite teams, playing pissed off at home.
Your regulars are a go for Chicago, especially Joakim Noah who has really turned into a rebounding beast over the past six weeks. Since January 13 he’s had double-figure rebounds in all but 7 games, and has pulled down six or more offensive rebounds a freakish six times. He has double-doubles in four of his past five games, including a triple-double February 22. Carlos Boozer seems to regularly shrink vs. Indiana, but that’s not enough reason to bench him. All the other Bulls you would normally start, you should in this game.
Same story for Indiana. If Roy Hibbert can stay out of foul trouble, he could see extended time with Jeff Foster likely out. Tyler Hansbrough has had some good games against Chicago, but he’s a risky start if you have better options. Paul George has also put up some decent defensive numbers vs. Derrick Rose, including some dramatic playoff blocks last year. All in all though, the Bulls are so good defensively that you should temper statistical expectations for all of your regular Pacers.
Lucas Klipsch celebrates too much. Why, what’s up? Follow him on Twitter @LukeNukem317