The Chicago Bulls crossed one revenge game off their last last night when they defeated the 76ers in Philadelphia, can they cross off a second by beating the Pacers in Chicago tonight? The Pacers have won their past six games after dropping five straight before that. Chicago is also riding a six game win streak. Whose streak comes to an end?
When the Pacers last beat the Bulls there was some note of the Pacers over-celebrating and annoying Derrick Rose. Sounds like Derrick is using perceived slights to motivate him similar to Jordan. Granted, until he wins a championship he doesn't need perceived slights, just the trophy.
In an amusing series of comments yesterday, Joakim Noah noted that Roy Hibbert couldn't out celebrate him if he tried and that whatever the Pacers did was nothing compared to the level of celebration Noah's capable of. Who doesn't buy into that?
Another set of athletic trapping wings
The Indiana Pacers share many similarities with the 76ers. They're a team with plenty of perimeter athleticism that they'll use to try and trap Derrick Rose and force him to give up the ball. However, unlike the 76ers, the Pacers have a bit plenty of size and talent in the front court.
David West, Roy Hibbert, and Tyler Hansbrough make up a tough and physical front court that can beat up on players on the interior and get a bit more scoring done. However, they're a bit more limited in how much they can switch relative to the 76ers who could throw Thaddeus Young on a guard off a switch while he was playing PF.
Expect Paul George to get plenty of duty in the trap on Derrick Rose along with Danny Granger to help out Darren Collison.
Improve on the fundamentals
The Bulls beat the 76ers despite losing the rebounding battle, foul battle, and turnover battle last night. They have the talent to take out teams while struggling with some of those fundamentals, but they aren't likely to win multiple games in a row under such circumstances.
Chicago shot lights out from the three point line while Philly couldn't throw the ball in the ocean. Unless Chicago expects something similar against Indiana they'll need to do a better job on the glass and with ball control. They should also come in with a better plan on how to deal with the trap which will most assuredly be coming.
The Pacers are effectively the Hinrich/Gordon/Deng era Bulls. They win based on effort, toughness, and defense, but they don't really have the goto scorer or superstar player to put them over the top. Chicago needs to make sure they don't fall into the trap of playing with less energy or else the Pacers will take this game from them.
Who knocks down the open jumpers?
Indiana has crowded the paint something fierce against Chicago in their recent games, and I expect more of the same tonight. As such, who can step up and knock down their open jumpers? Rose will draw plenty of defensive attention, but the game might be on the rest of the cast to hit their shots and make Indy pay for playing four guys around the rim or trapping too hard.
Rose has been a tear lately, and if Indy doesn't overplay him, he'll likely shred the heck out of the Pacers like he has everyone else recently. Derrick's back to playing at an MVP level, so just other guys knocking down open jumpers makes the offense very difficult to stop.
How does a Jo/Roy battle shake out?
Jo struggles to defend some of the bigger centers in the league, that said I think he can use his quickness to pester Hibbert more so than some of the other banger types that bother him. However, he'll likely struggle to get his jump hook off against Roy in the paint, so I look for Noah to get most of his points in an offensive rebounding/leak out type roll.
He'll also get plenty of chances to test out the tornado if he wants to shoot jumpers. If Noah can knock down a couple of 15 footers early it will really help loosen up the Indy defense.
West and Boozer, two of a kind?
David West reminds me of a Carlos Boozer type. He's a guy who has plenty of skills to finish shots but relies on his PG to get him his looks more so than creating them himself. He's undersized, not so explosive athletically, but can still put up some numbers if he's not defended well.
I haven't studied West enough to know if he's a poor defender, but I expect that the two guys should nullify each other for the most part.
Indy has played the Bulls very tough dating back to last season. They're well coached, and they have enough perimeter athleticism to harass Derrick. Chicago should win, but they'd better come ready to play, because a half assed effort won't get it done.