Chicago Bulls vs Indiana Pacers 7pm on CSN/NBATV - Statement game

Chicago Bulls vs Indiana Pacers 7pm on CSN/NBATV - Statement game

The league is about one quarter of the way through it's shortened 2011-2012 campaign. Not enough time to have any idea what the final playoff seeding will look like, but enough time to separate the haves from the havenots. The Indiana Pacers are definitely a 'have'.

If I had sat down and been asked to predict the Bulls statement games this season, a game against the Indiana Pacers in late January wouldn't have been on my mind. However, sit amongst the Eastern Conferences' top six teams, tied for second in the loss column with five losses [second only to our Chicago Bulls of course].

The Pacers are two and two against quality opponents with wins against the Lakers and Hawks and losses to the Heat and Magic. They've also beaten Boston twice if we want to lump them in as a quality opponent.

Meanwhile, the Bulls are five and two against quality opponents with wins against the Lakers, Clippers, Grizzlies [at home], Hawks [at home], and Magic with their only losses coming to the Hawks [in Atlanta] and Memphis Grizzlies [in Memphis without Rose].

Walking wounded update
In: Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah - Both were reported to be fine after returning to the court last game and did not re aggravate their injuries.

Out: Luol Deng, Taj Gibson - Gibson is still listed as day to day and may come back Friday or Sunday, but his ankle is still too bad to play on tonight. Luol Deng is listed as week to week and will try to play the rest of the season with a torn ligament in his left wrist.

Keys to the game

Get ready for a fight

The Chicago Bulls are on a roll, but they've rolled through the dregs of the league. It's great that they've destroyed the bottom feeders, but they'll need to get their game faces on against Indiana.

The Pacers bring several things to the table that cause the Bulls to struggle.
1: They play with a lot of athleticism on the perimeter and can send recover quickly from double teams and traps on Derrick Rose.

2: They play five guys on the court who can score with tremendous balance which plays against the Bulls defensive strength of shutting down the ball handler through overloading him with defensive pressure.

3: The Pacers play like a goon squad. In the playoffs they got away with at least four flagrant fouls and looked as if they weren't above attempting to injury people to get a win.

Rip Hamilton changes everything

The Pacers went overboard attempting to coral Derrick Rose in the playoffs. A strategy that worked well when the Bulls struggled to find alternate scoring and play making, but a quick outlet to Rip Hamilton will give the Bulls another scorer/play maker to make the Pacers pay.

Unfortunately for Chicago, the advantage of having Rip out there will now be mitigated by not having Deng out there. The Bulls will now start Brewer in his place still giving the Pacers a perimeter player they can sag off on.

Can Boozer keep it going?

With the exception of the Nets game, Boozer has been rolling big time on offense [his stats were heavily inflated due to three scores in the final minute where the Nets left him alone under the basket attempting some type of trap].

The Pacers played against a hobbled Boozer in the playoffs, and if Carlos can give the Bulls a strong scoring effort it will give Chicago the offensive balance it needs to defeat the Pacers swarming defense.

Fundamental defense

The Bulls overload their defense on the strong side of the court which can be dominant against isolation players and superstars but cause greater struggles against more balanced attacks.

The Pacers have a more balanced attack, so the Bulls will need to be cognizant of their rotations and responsibilities to protect against the ball swinging to the opposite side of the court.

Chip on the shoulder

The Pacers have made plenty of improvements, but they're still a tier below this Chicago Bulls team. I expect the Bulls to come out tonight and prove it.


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  • Indiana definitely plays like a goon squad as you mention under Vogel, but thankfully one of the biggest goons is now gone...Josh McRoberts! They still have Jeff Foster and Hansborough who can definitely be goonish at times, but McBob was one of the biggest goons out of the 3 last year in the playoffs.

  • This is one of those games I really wish we had Deng and Taj healthy. If we were 100% we could beat them for sure, but Deng and Taj are 2 impact players who's role is difficult to fill. You have to think the Pacers look at the Bulls the same way we see the Heat, So expect them to play hard and this will be a physical low scoring game for both teams. I believe this will be a win for Chicago but I just hope with the pacers goonish style basketball we don't have any more injuries. I'd rather see us lose the game than lose another key player. And everyone on this Bulls team is a key player.

  • How much was the Bulls struggle in the playoffs due to injuries to Boozer and Noah and Bogans playing SG?
    They just lost to Magic at home yesterday...If the Bulls stop them in the early going at the perimeter, then this should be another NJ type game.

    I am looking forward to Boozer making his impact on Hansborough and stopping the talk of match-up problems with Indy

  • This Pacer can be dangerous so the Bulls need to take care of them on the home court. Beat them, send them a message loud and clear even tho the team does have injuries, and give Butler some significant playing time cause I think the kid is ready to contribute now not later.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    Agree 100% about getting Butler some time. The kid is a fundamentally solid defender with a decent skill set. He deserves some playing time.

    It Thibs had played him some (other than garbage time) during the first 19 games he would truly be ready to help in Deng's absence.

  • Without Deng and Taj this is a game against a quality opponent in which boozer needs to step up offensively. I have no delusions that he will be anything but his normal(tits on a whore) defensive douche.

    He has no injury excuses for being abused by Hansbrough, Foster(and West) this time.

    Rip and Rose are going to have to score 50. Korver needs to hit a bunch of 3's. CJ needs to be aggressive.

    Noah and Asik need to hammer the boards, with boozer cherry picking his share.

    This looks to be a tough win.

  • The Deng story Doug just posted is of more interest to me right now, but as for tonight's game, apparently Indiana is leading the league in opponents lowest field goal percentage? I'm not sure how important that is compared to scoring, but they are probably doing something right.

    Losing last night by 20 at home to the Magic means they will be very likely to play well tonight perhaps bringing their best game. And many NBA analysts have the Pacers ranked as high as third or fourth best in the East. So I doubt this will be an easy game.

    My feeling is in games against two pesky defenses usually offensive adjustments are what will make the difference. Thibs it's time to channel your inner Phil/Tex. This is a game where C.J. and Ronnie need to show they can do it(score) not just against average or sub par teams, but against a stingy D on the road.

    And Jo and Booz need to continue to be difference makers i.e quality starters.

  • well I guess the magic made a statement last night by blowing out indy on indy's home floor. If deng and taj we're playing tonight I would expect the same, but since they're not I expect a close win.

  • Kevin Love signed a four year deal, with a player option on the fourth year. Rose, Noah, and Butler are the only Bulls under contract for what would be his opt out year. If Mirotic doesn't come over for some reason, do the Bulls make a run at him?

  • In reply to Tyler Soze:

    Bulls fans should really stop fantasizing about a foreign player that won't be coming to the Bulls for another 2, 3, or 4 years or maybe not at all cause with Love having a option to be an unrestricted free agent after the third year of his deal, if the Bulls won't him they can just go and do a sign and trade for the guy and include Mirotic and whoever else in the deal cause by then some of the current bulls players contracts will be over or close to be over. But please stop talking about a player who probably won't even play for the Bulls, too many years ahead to tell if the guy will be a Bull or not.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    If Mirotic comes over and plays well (two medium-sized ifs) they won't sign Love because they play the same position and Mirotic will be much cheaper. If he isn't here by Love's walk year, they should definitely make a run at Love, who has joked(?) about wanting to play with DRose.

    I don't get the hostility towards talking about Mirotic though. It's no worse than any other speculation about potential future acquisitions.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    It is not like Mirotic is an Asik like prospect where we got lucky with a good player. Mirotic is more like a Rubio type prospect in terms of impact. I know he is not coming for a couple of years. But, he has great value both as a player who would help or as trade bait. I wouldn't be surprised if we could get a player whose value is Affalo or Kevin Martin easily

  • In reply to Reese1:

    You mean like Kukoc and Asik never played for the Bulls.

    The Bulls don't draft these guys just to fill their quota of draft picks, they draft them fully expecting them to play for the Bulls.

  • Line up I hope to never see again:

    Asik, Scal, Korver, Butler & Rose

  • In reply to Jmax:

    Another Thibs fav that needs to be gone... Scalabrine

  • Bulls can't buy a bucket.... or a foul for that matter. Ugh, lets see how the last 4 minutes pan out, but down by 7 and no momentum it doesn't look good.

  • Biggest Thib in-game coaching blunder to date?

    Putting in Scal for Boozer with under a minute left.

    1.) That's a big f u to Boozer. We expect it with Taj coming in with defense.

    2.) Scal ends up taking the game winning shot.

  • In reply to Jmax:

    "2.) Scal ends up taking the game winning shot."

    Now we're criticizing the guy for a play that he didn't draw up, that simply happened because of who on the floor got back with Derrick on the fast break?

    If anything I want to know why Derrick didn't just put it up himself. I realize that Scal didnt have anyone within 15ft of him, but you were only down 2 with 30 seconds to go and you're the MVP... I want him looking to score.

  • In reply to untitledreality:

    No I'm criticizing him because Scale doesn't really add anything on defense and Boozer is a better second opinion. Derrick was double teamed and guess who was left all alone for the game winner?

  • In reply to Jmax:

    "and guess who was left all alone for the game winner?"

    Our backup power forward who has attempted 520 3s in his career and hit them at a 34.5% clip. You think Boozer makes it down the court with Rose? Was ANYONE else there? No. It was Scal, who by the way didn't get burned on D in that last 57 seconds, in fact no one did.

    Give Thibs a freaking break, this team has gone 78-24 since he took over and is making due with half a team day in day out this year.

  • In reply to untitledreality:

    Our backup power forward who has taken two threes this year? Who's almost 40? Yeah that's one. The offensive was set after the defensive stop. I'd rather have Boozer taking a twenty footer as a second option.

  • In reply to Jmax:

    Correction he's almost 34. He just runs down the court and jumps like he's forty. Either way, that's not my preferred bail out option as it looked like Rose would be blocked if he had taken the lay up.

  • In reply to Jmax:

    Obviously, you are among the misguided group who thinks that snoozer actually ever tries to play any defense, a dead paraplegic gives more effort than he does.

    And no his defensive effort doesn't improve one iota on those few occasions against crappy teams when he actually hits a few wide open jumpers, misguided people just claim that it does.

    Thibs made the right call(the only call given his roster, although I might have gone with Asik myself) especially since Bozo wouldn't have been in position to take that 3 never mind have the ability to make it.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    No Boozer would have been five feet closer for the open two. I don't consider Scal an upgarde on defense over Boozer in this day and age, and I don't consider Scal a legitimate second opinion in a game winning play.

  • In reply to Jmax:

    I agree with you Jmax

  • In reply to Jmax:

    It is really not a big deal in terms of defense. I don't think there is a big difference in going with Scal or Boozer. Both are bad if West starts backing down on defense. That said, Boozer has demonstrated active hands in poking the ball a lot.
    I think the biggest problem with the game was the Bulls lost their intensity in the second half after they had a good lead. It would have been better if they were tied at the half.

  • In reply to Jmax:

    Actually, a little know fact, but Rose has yet to figure out how to work the clock in the last 40 seconds of the quarter(any quarter, not just the 4rth) with regard to when to attack and when to pull it back in order to properly execute the 2 for 1.

  • Kind of knew a loss for the Bulls was coming at home. Bulls need another body to soften the blow of all the injuries. Bulls need to keep a close look on this Pacer team who's only one game behind them for the central lead.

  • come back home find the bulls lost to the fuckin pacers at the UC, what BS.

  • 36 points for the entire 2nd half won't win many games. Bulls up 10 to start the 3rd quarter and gave it all back in a few minutes.

    CJ and Rip couldn't buy a bucket. Brewer, tremendous 2nd quarter, but 1-6 in the second half. Boozer just 5-14.

    Rose had 12 points in the 1st quarter, but did he look a bit tentative the next 3 quarters? Wonder if the toe is bothering him.

  • This loss was more on Thibs. Noah doesn't have the strength to guard Hibbert. Thibs should have put Asik in for Noah. Thibs does some strange things sometimes. I guess he doesn't want to put Asik in without Taj for some reason. Boozer, Rip looked good initially and then seemed to lose it.
    I guess we saw the value of Deng today. Brewer for all the great things he did is not a great rebounder and that's where the Bulls get their points.

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    "Thibs should have put Asik in for Noah"

    He did and Omer picked up a quick foul, gave up a few baskets, turned the ball over and looked lost at the line. For as great of a defender he is, it is hard to justify a offensive black hole when the he is on the floor with the (current) second unit.

    BTW, Ronnie went for 20 and 10 with 5 dimes and 3 steals... what else could you want from him?

  • In reply to untitledreality:

    He shot 1/6 in the second half. Good game overall but cold finish.

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    brewer had 10 rebounds lol.

  • In reply to rob32:

    He might have had the rebounds. That's not the point. Deng gets the rebound and puts it in. I am not saying Brewer played badly...he was probably the best Bulls player today. But, those crucial points Deng gets was missing today. It is just not boxscore. Brewer was left open a lot today which means somebody else was covered a lot more compared to what would have happened if Deng was out there.

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    Actually, I didn't even notice the loss of Deng, I did however miss the heck out of Taj.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Hibbert(who is more or less a wimp) is not too strong for Joah, he is simply too tall for Joah, 7'2 v 6'10.5. We already know that Joah is a tweener, but still more center than PF, he just needs to play with a complementary defensive stud to be most effective, and one on one post defense has never been and never will be his strength.

  • Statement rescinded :/.

    Scalabrine in with 57 seconds left? How about sliding Noah to the 4 and bringing Omer in. I guess Thibs determined he needed more speed on the floor. Speedy Scalabrine getting it done.

  • I was going to post this when it happened, but in the moment I would have been accused of being crazy. The game was lost in the first minute of each half. In the first the bulls blew 2 layups and a bunny(6points) in their first 3 trips. In the second half the refs blew 3 whistles on the bulls in the first 3 possessions taking away their aggressiveness for the half and giving it to Indy.

    The whole team played for shit in the second half(with the possible exception of Joah), Rose either couldn't do it, or didn 't want to, Rip wasn't hitting, C.J. couldn't take a good shot, brewer returned to being brewer, Korver was useless, and snoozer was snoozing.

    We probably missed Taj more than we missed Deng in this game.
    TOAW should just retire now(oops I've got $65 million left to steal), what could be more professionally embarrassing than getting replaced by Scal for defense in the last minute. Hilarious, but nothing cold be more true, Scal is a better defender under any circumstance than Bozo has ever tried to be or ever will try to be and he(Scal) barely belongs in the NBA. That is not me talking, that is the reining coach of the year making a definitive statement.

    I say we win that game if Taj plays, even if Deng was still out.

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