With only 14 games remaining for the Chicago Bulls, there is not much left they can do to prove they belong in the conversation as one of the best teams in the NBA’s Eastern Conference. They’ve overcome many adversities this season, split the season series with the Miami Heat at 2-2, and have an MVP candidate in Joakim Noah.
However, if the Bulls want to prove they are elite, their true test will be against the Indiana Pacers over the next couple of weeks. The Bulls play at Indiana on Friday, and then play the Pacers one last time this season on Mar. 24.
The Pacers, 6-5 in the month of March, haven’t been playing up to expectations as of late. They are also coming off of a terrible road loss to a 28-40 New York Knicks team. The acquisition of Evan Turner for Danny Granger at the trade deadline hasn’t worked as smoothly as planned as well. But don’t think for a second that the Pacers will fall asleep against a Chicago team that has gained momentum since Jan. 1.
The Bulls haven’t played the Pacers since Nov. 16 at the United Center. That day, Chicago beat Indiana 110-97, and gave the Pacers their first loss of the season at 9-1.
Since then, a lot has changed for both teams. Derrick Rose, who had 20 points in that game, would be ruled out for the season less than a week later. Luol Deng also scored 23 points, but was shipped off to Cleveland in January. The Pacers were also without the services of Turner and Andrew Bynum during that time.
But with Noah, D.J. Augustin and Taj Gibson all playing at high levels since the Deng trade, the Pacers could be in trouble facing the Bulls two more times to finish the season.