The Indiana Pacers are the first 9-0 team in the NBA since the Dallas Mavericks accomplished the feat in the 2002-03 season. The Chicago Bulls are the one of the most difficult tests for the Pacers during this stretch. Don’t look for the Bulls to back down on this rivalry as they will look to end the Pacers’ winning streak.
Both teams are coming off easy victories against their opponents and both are on their second nights of a back-to-back. The Bulls won easily even without their star guard in Derrick Rose. Rose came back from missing all of last season, had a slow start to the season, and was sidelined again with a right hamstring injury. The Bulls are not sure if he will return versus the Pacers or not. Even if he doesn’t play, the Pacers may still be in trouble.
The Bulls tend to be stingy even when they play without their star player. Not to mention, they are undefeated at home this year.
Well, the Pacers are undefeated period. They have been one of the hottest teams in the NBA primarily with their play on the defensive end. During their nine-game winning streak, they have held opponents to below 40 percent shooting. The offense may be clicking at just the right time as well.
The Pacers passed the century mark for the first time this season in their last game while holding their opponent to under 80 points. Paul George was carrying the team for most of the first few games, but the other Pacer players are starting to contribute. They need everyone to contribute against a Bulls team that has a starting five very similar to the Pacers’.
The main matchup to watch for in this game is the play between George and Bulls forward Luol Deng. Deng is a very good defensive player and he hopes to stop George, who is playing at an All-Star caliber level to start the season. If Deng can outplay George, then the Bulls will have the Pacers right where they want them.
During the beginning of the season, coach Frank Vogel told the Pacers to start 10-0. With a win tonight, the Pacers would reach that mark. The Pacers would love to accomplish this on the road on their rival’s home court. Expect the Bulls to put up a fight that requires the Pacers to fight that much harder in order for them to stay undefeated.
Justin Logan is an Indiana Pacers writer for Rant Sports. Add him on Facebook.