Basketball

Bulls Host Pacers In Divisional Matchup

Nikola Vucevic leads Bulls into matchup against the Pacers
Nikola Vucevic, Chicago Bulls (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

The Chicago Bulls will hope to keep the win streak alive against divisional rival Indiana Pacers. The Bulls are coming an easy against the Rockets, 133-118. While the Pacers also beat the Rockets 118-106. These teams will be facing off for the second time this season. Indiana won the first matchup in blowout fashion 109-77. The Bulls were playing in the second half of back-to-back games and were missing Nikola Vucevic. Chicago led that game for under a minute.

Keys to Bulls getting Win Streak to Three

Ball Movement

Many people are talking about everybody on the Bulls getting touches and scoring. But when the Bulls record less than 25 assists, their record is 11-8. While when they register more than 25 assists, Chicago is 11-1. In their loss to the Pacers last month, the Bulls got season-low 13 assists, which led to their offensive performance. When Lavine and DeRozan get double-teamed, these Bulls players need to move the ball, especially when the Pacers go to their 2-3 zone.

Paint Defense

In their last three games, Chicago has allowed the most points in the paint at an average of 56 points. Indiana got 44 points in the paint in the first matchup against Chicago. So what does this mean? Vucevic must keep the Pacers away from the paint, especially Myles Turner. Turner shoots 43.4% from shots within 10 feet of the basket. Remember Chicago was missing Vucevic, but Bradley couldn’t guard Turner, and he let Turner score 12 points and grab ten rebounds.

Get Nikola Vucevic Involved

Vucevic will be motivated to help the Bulls get revenge and get the first win of the season against Indiana Sunday night. When Vucevic scores less than 15 points, their record is 6-5. But they are 9-2 when he scores more than 15 points. He has started the season struggling shooting, and it didn’t help to be out for ten days in the NBA’s health and safety protocols. The Bulls have tried to involve Vucevic early in the post and spread out the floor with three-point shooting ability, unlike Tony Bradley.

Injury Report

Bulls

PlayerStatus Injury
Alex CarusoOutFoot
Derrick Jones Jr.OutHamstring
Patrick WilliamsOut For 4-6 MonthsLeft Wrist
Lonzo BallOut NBA’s Health and Safety Protocols
Tony Bradley Out NBA’s Health and Safety Protocols
Alfonzo McKinnie OutNBA’s Health and Safety Protocols

Pacers

PlayerStatus Injury
Domantas SabonisQuestionableCalf
T.J. McConnell Out for Several WeeksRight Wrist
Malcolm Brogdon QuestionableAchilles
T.J. Warren Out Foot
Jeremy LambQuestionableWrist

Bulls COVID Problems?

That’s correct; Chicago will be without head coach Billy Donavon for possibly the next ten days because of the NBA putting him the NBA’s health and safety protocols. All Bulls got cleared off the NBA’s protocols, but the Bulls’ COVID-19 continued one date later. Bulls assistant Chris Fleming will be the acting head coach in Sunday’s matchup.

Today, December 26th, the NBA placed Lonzo ball, Tony Bradley, and Alfonzo McKinnie in the NBA’s health and safety protocols. Almost every Bull this season got put in the NBA’s protocols. Chicago has had a total of 14 players enter health and safety protocols.

Ball is the only player to play every game this season for Chicago. He is averaging 13.2 points, 5.0 assists, and 5.4 rebounds.

On Monday after their win against Houston, Ball said when asked about avoiding the health and safety protocols,” I don’t really do too much, I just play and go back home really. I’m thankful that I haven’t got it yet.”

Lonzo Ball’s reaction Sunday

Game Prediction

Chicago will be looking to stay against Indiana. But with Sabonis not being 100% if he plays. Expect the Bulls to come out and prove they can beat the Pacers with Vucevic and no Ball. This game won’t be a blowout by the Bulls, but Chicago will get the season series to 1-1 with a close win. Lavine and DeRozan will go for at least 20 points each. Turner will get a double-double. This might be a game Coby White has been waiting for.

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  1. Pingback: No Murray No Problem Against Pistons - Championship Sports Media

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