Pacers at Bulls

Game Preview: Pacers at Bulls

Monday, November 22, 2021 at 8:00 PM ET at United Center

Pacers.com Game Preview presented by DraftKings

Matchup

After a stellar bounce-back win over the New Orleans Pelicans at home, the Pacers (7-11) are taking a quick trip to the Windy City to take on the Chicago Bulls (12-5) for the first time this season. Monday's game will cap a string of eight road contests over the last ten games for Indiana.

Although the Bulls will be on the second night of a back-to-back, this contest is shaping up to be a tough one for the Blue & Gold. Chicago is off to a surprisingly good start in its 2021-22 NBA campaign. They have spent the past year gathering talent to complement their star, Zach LaVine.

As of Sunday morning, LaVine currently ranks fifth in the NBA in scoring (26.5 points per game). The ninth-year guard is averaging 49 percent shooting from the field, including 38.7 percent from deep. LaVine's elite-level playmaking and shot creation has given the Bulls a boost for several years.

However, this year he has more help. It has come in the form of 12-year veteran DeMar DeRozan. In the offseason, DeRozan signed a 3-year contract with the Bulls in August via a sign-and-trade deal with the San Antonio Spurs. The forward is averaging 26.8 points per game — the second-highest total of his career. He ranks one spot ahead of LaVine in the NBA in scoring. Together, they are responsible for 49 percent of Chicago's total scoring.

The Pacers' frontcourt and wings will have their hands full on defense because of the duo, but they appear to be up for the challenge. As a whole, the Blue & Gold have been playing better defense, holding opponents to fewer than 100 points in three of their past four games. The spree has elevated the squad to the 16th spot for defensive rating (107.6 points per 100 possessions). On Saturday, the team held the Pelicans to just 94 points on 35-of-88 shooting.

Indiana's starters also returned to form against the Pelicans, as four of five members finished in double figures. The group finished with a +/- rating of +115 for the game. Myles Turner finished a game-high +32, tallying 11 points, nine boards, and two blocks.

Fans could be in for an exciting contest between the two squads who still feel as if they have something to prove early on this season.

Projected Starters

Pacers: PG - Malcolm Brogdon, SG - Caris LeVert, SF - Justin Holiday, PF - Domantas Sabonis, C - Myles Turner
Bulls: PG - Lonzo Ball, SG - Alex Caruso, SF - Zach LaVine, PF - DeMar DeRozan, C - Tony Bradley

Injury Report

Pacers: T.J. Warren – out (left foot stress fracture)

Bulls: Nikola Vucevic – out (health & safety protocols), Patrick Williams – out (dislocated left wrist)

Last Meeting

April 6, 2021: Missing Malcolm Brogdon and Domantas Sabonis, the Pacers failed to capture a late-season victory over the Bulls at Gainbridge Fieldhouse. The squad fell to the visitors, 113-97.

The Blue & Gold recorded a season-high 139 points against San Antonio three days prior. However, they could not back up that performance without two of their main starters. To make matters worse, Myles Turner exited this game early in the third quarter with a sprained ankle and did not return.

Five Pacers players finished in double figures in the effort. Caris LeVert led the way with 20 points on 9-of-18 shooting. Jeremy Lamb and Edmond Sumner each tallied 15 apiece. It was Lamb's first appearance since spraining his right toe. But it was not enough. Missing two key big men, the Pacers were out-rebounded 57-33, including 14-6 on the offensive boards. Nikola Vucevic shined for Chicago, finishing with 32 points and 17 rebounds.

Vucevic was the integral piece that helped Chicago stretch its lead to 20 points early in the third quarter. After Indiana mounted a 12-4 run to close the gap, the All-Star knocked down a three to stop the run. With 3:40 to go in the third, he hit consecutive jumpers to remedy the Pacers' damage. The Bulls led 97-74 heading into the fourth, and Indiana never posed a significant threat from there.

Noteworthy

  • The all-time regular-season series record is close, with Indiana trailing by just three wins (96-99).
  • Indiana's biggest win against Chicago during the 2020-21 season was a 125-106 win at United Center on Dec. 26.
  • Indiana is 3-1 this season when six players finish in double figures.

Tickets

The Pacers welcome LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers to Gainbridge Fieldhouse on Wednesday, Nov. 24 at 7:00 PM ET to tip off a three-game homestand. Find Tickets »

Broadcast Information TV & Radio Listings »

TV: Bally Sports Indiana - Chris Denari (play-by-play), Quinn Buckner (analyst), Jeremiah Johnson (studio host)
Radio: 93.5/107.5 The Fan - Mark Boyle (play-by-play), Eddie Gill (analyst), Pat Boylan (studio host)





by Brendan Rourke
Pacers.com Contributor

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