Indiana Pacers (28-19)
Chicago Bulls (29-18)
Who’s ready for three straight games of Indiana Pacers basketball? I hope the team is ready as I am sure they will be. I might be worried about fatigue in the third game as it’s an away game, and it will be that third game before another game on Friday. So in case you wanted to see the Pacers, you know how four chances in five nights. Tonight’s game is at home, then home for the Atlanta Hawks, away for the Philadelphia 76ers, and back home Friday for the Toronto Raptors. Did you catch all that? Oh yea, the Pacers have won thirteen straight home games and have a 18-3 record at home. Talk about some home cooking.
It starts tonight with the rescheduled Chicago Bulls game that was going to be the day after Christmas. Then some bad weather hit, and the game didn’t happen. I expect a good intense environment as the last game saw these teams have a drag out defensive battle where the Pacers won 80-76. First one to 80 could win tonight’s game as well.
Some of the same star power is missing from tonight’s game as Derrick Rose and Danny Granger for the Bulls and Pacers will be missing. Both should be back here soon, and that could change how these teams end up in the Conference. I think both teams are vying for the division title, but both could be up there for the conference lead if Miami or New York stumble down the stretch.
The Bulls will be without Joakim Noah and Kirk Hinrich, which could be a great advantage for the Pacers. Noah is such a force in the post even if he’s not scoring, he can rebound and cause havoc down there. The Pacers should look to expose that part of the Bulls.
David West was huge in the win over Miami with 30 points, and I would look for him just as much this evening. On the Bulls side, the Pacers have to slow down Luol Deng, who put up 25 points on Saturday night. Taj Gibson needs to be guarded closely as well as he scored 19 points and grabbed 19 rebounds on Saturday night. There has to be a body on him as the Pacers can’t allow that many rebounds to one player. With as well as the Pacers rebound, first in the league, they should be able to get him boxed out.
It’s going to take all hands on deck tonight for the Pacers to pull out this win. The Bulls are one of the best road teams, but the Pacers are one of the best home teams. Which cancels each other out? If the Pacers can get Paul George going again, 34 points in the last meeting, I look for a big Pacers win that would pull them dead even with the Bulls in the division. Expect a single digit win by either team in this one, but let’s go Blue and Gold.