The Indiana Pacers enter Monday's matchup with the Chicago Bulls on a two-game winning streak. They return to Bankers Life Fieldhouse after completing a three-game road trip.
In the Pacers' previous outing, Indiana managed to take down the Atlanta Hawks with 125-113 being the final score. They used a 41-point effort in the fourth quarter to ultimately pull away and clinch a victory with Myles Turner and the bench unit leading the charge.
As of late, the Bulls have been shorthanded with Zach LaVine attempting to carry them to victories. Chicago lost 125-106 to the Los Angeles Clippers in their previous game and are 3-7 in their last 10 outings.
Neither the Bulls nor Pacers have necessarily been clicking or firing on all cylinders as of late. Managing to get a win in this matchup could go a long way for either side establishing some momentum to build on going forward.
Here are the particulars on Monday night's game:
- Who: Indiana Pacers (14-13) vs. Atlanta Hawks (11-14)
- When: 7:00 p.m. ET, Monday, Feb. 15.
- Where: Bakers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, Indiana.
- Latest Line: Most oddsmakers consider the Pacers being 5.5-point favorites in this matchup as of 12 p.m. ET.
- Standings: With the Boston Celtics' recent struggles, the Indiana Pacers enter Monday's matchup in fourth place in the Eastern Conference standings. Meanwhile, the Chicago Bulls rank 11th and are one game out of eighth.
- Series history: Chicago leads the all-time series, 97-96.
- Last meeting: The Pacers last faced off with the Bulls on Dec. 26, 2020, in what was a 125-106 win. Indiana used a 23-point outing from TJ Warren and a triple-double outing by Domantas Sabonis to help achieve the victory.
- Projected Bulls starters: Coby White, Zach LaVine, Denzel Valentine, Patrick Williams, Daniel Gafford.
- Projected Pacers starters: Malcolm Brogdon, Justin Holiday, Doug McDermott, Domantas Sabonis, Myles Turner.
- TV: FOX Sports Indiana.
- Announcers: Chris Denari (play-by-play), Quinn Buckner (analyst), Jeremiah Johnson (sideline reporter/host)
- Radio: 93.5/107.5 The Fan - Mark Boyle (play-by-play), Eddie Gill (analyst), Pat Boylan (sideline reporter/host)
Here are three things to watch in this game:
1. Slowing Down Zach LaVine
Much like the Pacers' previous matchup against the Hawks with Trae Young, the Bulls are a team that is heavily reliant on their perimeter star, Zach LaVine. On the season, he's averaging 28.1 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 5.3 assists.
You could legitimately count on one hand the number of players who are averaging more points per game than LaVine as there are only five who are. He has raised his impact even further as of late as he's averaging 34.4 points over his previous five games.
It seems almost inevitable for the Pacers to bring out the creative defensive strategies they took advantage of against the Hawks. Whether it includes a 2-3 zone or a box-and-one, whatever the Pacers deploy, it will be geared to make other players beat them.
2. Frontcourt Advantage
The Bulls invested a lot in their frontcourt using the NBA Draft between the selections Lauri Markkanen, Wendell Carter Jr., and most recently, Patrick Williams. Chicago In this matchup, the Bulls will continue to be without Carter Jr. and Markkanan.
Williams started off his rookie campaign on a high note but has struggled as of late. Despite receiving 35 minutes in each of his previous two outings, he combined for a total of 10 points. Meanwhile, Daniel Gafford has started in Carter Jr.'s absence and has been underwhelming both ends.
Thaddeus Young has received plenty of opportunities as a small ball five and has that has helped the Bulls to mitigate their need to rely on Gafford. This means the former Pacer could end up slotting directly against Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner, a matchup Indiana surely would invite.
3. Favorable Matchup for Brogdon
There may not be a team in the NBA that is worse at defending pick-and-roll sequences than the Bulls. Chicago gives up the most points per possession to ball handlers in such situations while ranking 23rd in their opponent output for roll men.
Malcolm Brogdon is a player who could benefit in particular from this matchup as he's the Pacers most frequently involved pick-and-roll ball handler. He will also have a size advantage against Coby White and can use his strength to his advantage getting to the rim.
Brogdon has struggled with his scoring efficiency as of late and this could be a key catalyst in getting him back on track. If not, it's difficult to see him shaking his recent slump anytime soon.