Saturday, October 5th, 2013 at 7:00 PM EDT at Bankers Life Fieldhouse
Preseason Game Preview: Pacers vs Bulls
Pacers.com Staff | October 4, 2013
Basketball season has returned and entering the Pacers first preseason game of the 2013-14 season, there’s unusual intrigue due to the return of key players on either bench – and the fact that they are both gunning for an NBA title.
Pacers fans everywhere are curious about Danny Granger, and how the former star (or “captain”) of the team looks. He tried to return last year in late February, but after five short games, he and the team concluded that surgery was the best option. So on April 4, just six months and one day ago, Dr. James Andrews performed the surgery on his left knee.
In the offseason and into training camp, Granger impressed observers. From Larry Bird noting that Granger looked “really, really good,” to Paul George saying he looked 98 percent ready, everyone wants to see how he looks on their own. And it’ll be a big measuring stick for Granger himself. Granger anticipates that his workload soon won’t be an issue, and that he’ll be nearly 100 percent before the regular season. Regaining complete confidence, he says, is the last and largest hurdle.
To start the preseason, Frank Vogel said he’ll start last year’s five, which includes Lance Stephenson. As far as Granger goes, he expects to play Granger about 24 minutes.
Greater than the ‘Return of Granger’ storyline, is the new pieces that Pacers officials brought in this summer: backup point guard C.J. Watson, sharpshooter Chris Copeland, and Luis Scola – who many believe has the highest basketball IQ on the team. Other newcomers with guaranteed deals include rookie Solomon Hill and point guard Donald Sloan. Lastly, all will be watching to see whether any of the training camp guys impress.
For the Bulls, it’s the long-awaited return of 2011 NBA MVP Derrick Rose, who hasn’t played in a game since April 28, 2012. That night, a first-round playoff game against Philadelphia, Rose collapsed on a move to the hoop and then laid on the floor in agony with about 80 seconds remaining. Later, it was determined that he tore the ACL in his left knee and needed surgery – which he had on May 12th.
Even without Rose all of last year, the Bulls went 45-37 and finished second in the division, falling to Miami (4-1) in the conference semi-finals.
Vogel felt the team had a great camp due to the team’s engagement, energy, and overall understanding of the opportunity in which the team has. They’re ready to slide on their game jerseys, pull up the shorts and beat up on someone else. It just so happens their first game of the season is against division rival Chicago, only adding to the storylines.
“This might have more attention for a first preseason game than maybe any game in the history of the league with Danny Granger coming back and Derrick Rose’s return. It’ll be exciting, but it still is just the first preseason game” – Frank Vogel on how there’s a real storyline to this preseason game.
“We’ll worry about us, but we’re gonna prepare understanding how the Bulls guard pick-and-rolls, how they guard the post, types of offensive sets they run. We’ll prepare like it’s a regular game because part of building what you do is the ability to dial into an opponent’s strengths and weaknesses and schemes.” – Frank Vogel on their approach
“There’s always ways that you can impress a coach. … We’re encouraging those guys to do their best in camp and see what happens.” – Frank Vogel on whether the team’s loaded roster hurts the training camp guys’ chances to stick with the team
“Yeah, of course. To me, any team that’s competing for the East is a rival. They’re in our division, clearly our top competition to win the division again.” – Frank Vogel on whether the Bulls are a rival
“I really think probably around halfway through those games I’ll be feeling really good. …I’m progressing really, really well. I’m please with where I’m at.” – Danny Granger
“This game might be bigger than a preseason game should be. That’s what’s gonna make me more excited, especially going to sleep tonight.” – Paul George
- The Pacers won three of the four regular-season meetings last season.
- The Bulls have won five consecutive preseason meetings with the Pacers. The Pacers’ last win in the preseason series came in 2008 when the two played in Fort Wayne.
- The Pacers’ roster is 17 entering the first game while the Bulls have 16 players.
- In the offseason, the Bulls added former Pacers Mike Dunleavy Jr. and Dahntay Jones, plus Indiana alum D.J. White.
- Even though he didn’t play one minute last season, Derrick Rose’s jersey was second in jersey sales.
March 23: The Pacers went into Chicago looking to sweep the season series and they nearly did until a turn of events in the fourth quarter. The Pacers were just 4-of-20 from the floor and scored just two points in the paint. Still, they had a chance late. Paul George misfired on two open looks in the final seconds, as the Bulls were victorious 87-84. The loss ended Indiana’s three-game win streak.
Paul George scored a game-high 23 points along with 11 rebounds. Roy Hibbert finished with 18 points and 12 rebounds. Luol Deng paced the Bulls with 20 points.
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TV: NBA TV
Radio: FM 107.5/AM 1070 The Fan, Pacers Radio Network - Mark Boyle (play-by-play), Slick Leonard (analyst), Kevin Lee (sideline reporter/host)