Countdown to Tipoff: Pacers vs. Bulls

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Countdown to Tipoff: Pacers vs. Bulls

SCOUTING THE PACERS: Having lost for the third time by double figures this season to one team they might face in the first round of the NBA Playoffs in Boston Wednesday night, the Pacers now face the other team most likely to confront the No. 8 season, the Chicago Bulls. Indiana is also 0-3 against the Bulls, losing all three by double figures and an average margin of 18.3 points. Like the Celtics, the Bulls play stifling defense, limiting Indiana to an average of 82.7 points on 36 percent shooting overall, 30 percent from the arc. The previous three matchups, however, came before the coaching change from Jim O'Brien to Frank Vogel, so it will be interesting to see if the shift in offensive philosophy will yield dividends against Chicago.

SCOUTING THE BULLS: The Bulls, who were tied for the top spot in the East with the Celtics at 48-18 heading into a game at New Jersey Thursday night, rank just behind Boston (91.03) in points allowed (91.14, second in the league) but are first in field goal percentage defense (.429) and first in rebound disparity (plus 5.6 per game). MVP candidate Derrick Rose has averaged 22.0 points, 8.0 assists and 6.3 rebounds in three games against the Pacers. Chicago's front line could be thinned if neither Carlos Boozer (left ankle) or Joakim Noah (flu) are able to play.

KEY MATCHUP: Though Rose is the MVP candidate and the hand at the wheel for the Bulls, the Pacers have struggled mightily to contend with Noah's energy and activity inside. Boozer also has hurt them when healthy, so Indiana's young frontcourt of Roy Hibbert and Tyler Hansbrough will have to step up to the challenge.

QUOTE MARKS: "I think a lot of times with the good teams, the refs, to their credit they just call it like they see it, but when you have a team that plays well defensively, a lot of times they think whether it’s a foul or not that it’s good defense. I think the better teams like L.A., Chicago, and Boston who are good defensive teams, they’re tough to beat, because they’ve played together for awhile and they know what their doing." -- Granger

INJURY REPORT: For the Pacers, Mike Dunleavy (broken left thumb) is out. For the Bulls, Carlos Boozer (left ankle) is day-to-day and Joakim Noah (flu-like symptoms) is questionable.

TICKETS: Buy now | Collectible Friday.

BROADCAST INFO: The game will be telecast at 7 p.m. on Fox Sports Indiana with Chris Denari and Quinn Buckner calling the game and Stacy Paetz on the sideline, with a pre-game show starting at 6:30. The radio broadcast is anchored by the flagship of the Pacers' network, WIBC 93 FM, featuring Mark Boyle and Austin Croshere, with Kevin Lee reporting.

INTERACT: You can chat with other fans around the country in our live game chat, which begins at tipoff.