[Thanks to blackgallagher for the full-fledged character game preview. Ronnie Brewer is starting for Luol Deng, and the backup 4 minutes will likely go to Scal. I'll be at the UC, so likely some live-tweetin'. Game Thread at 7:08 -ed.]
Tonight, we welcome the Indiana Pacers to the UC. This game is the second of a three game home stand before things get really Hollywood as Chicago heads to Miami to face the Heat on Sunday. For the Bulls, it’s the chance to keep a four-game winning streak going, while for the Pacers will be heading into town on the second game of a back-to-back and trying to avoid a losing streak.
Bulls Last 5: L-W-W-W-W (@ Home: W-W-W-W-W)
Pacers Last 5: W- L-W-W-L (Away: L-W-L-W-W)
While this has been a very down year for Danny Granger and despite not having a 20 ppg scorer on the roster, the Pacers are 11-5, good for second in the Central and the eighth best record in the league. They’ve been able to do this with balance, as they have six players that average at least 10 a game, seven if you count Tyler Hansbrough’s 9.9 ponts a game. They’ve been able to get it done on the defensive end of the floor, placing sixth in the league in Defensive Efficiency, however they are in the bottom half of the league in Offensive Efficency, at 20th. That aside, they are playing well and they always play the Bulls tough, so it will be a good matchup.
The Bulls come in to the UC with a 16-3 record, best in the league behind stifling defense, second in the league in Defensive Efficiency at 93.5 points per 100 possessions. Our offense has been effective as well, as we lead the league in Offensive Efficiency at 105.7 points per 100 possessions.While The Bulls have been banged up as of late, we are starting to get healthy now, as there are only two players listed on the injury report in Lu and Taj, and even though they will be missed, Chicago has the depth to cope with their absences.
[I think both Bulls are out, both Pacers are playing -ed.]
BlackGallagher’s "Ya’ll Ready To Smash Some Fruit?!" Four Factors Breakdown:
As some of you guys may know, Dean Oliver(aka the moneyball dude of Basketball not named Hollinger) identified what he called the Four Factors to Basketball success, which are:
3. Rebounding(Total Rebound Rate)(20%)
4. Free Throws(Free Throw Rate)(15%)
This is usually a pretty good barometer as to how teams win, as if you shoot well, limit turnovers, blah blah blah, so I’m going to shoot these four watermelons and come up with a prediction (cuzBlackGallagher don’t go out like no punk bitch with no mallet).
Bulls: 49.8%(8th in NBA)
Pacers: 45.2%(28th in NBA)
Bulls:45.5%(6th in NBA)
Pacers:45.28%(3rd in NBA)
There is a huge discrepancy on the Offensive end, as Indiana has shot poorly all season(41.7%), but Indiana has been good defensively. However, I think we will be able to stop the Pacers more often than they can stop us, and while they have the size inside to deal with Booz, Jo, and the InstanBull and the length on the perimeter to bother Derrick and company, this will be a low scoring game that the Bulls can grind out, due to the fact that we have been better offensively.
Bullls: 13.38%(7th in NBA)
Pacers:14.66%(14th in NBA)
Bulls:14.05%(19th in NBA)
Pacers:14.31%(14th in NBA)
Both teams are alright when it comes to limiting turnovers and not so good at creating turnovers. This is a wash.
Rebounding(Total Rebound Rate):
Bulls: 54.0(1st in NBA)
Pacers:50.9(8th in NBA)
Edge to the Bulls. While Chicago and Indiana have very close Offensive Rebound Rates(31.9 and 29.6 respectively, ranked 1st and 3rd in the league), the Pacers are almost dead last in Defensive Rebound Rate(71.4 to the Bulls’ 75, 8th in the league). Those extra possessions in a game mean a lot, and the Bulls are much better at closing out possessions on the defensive end than the Pacers.
Free Throws(Free Throw Rate):
Bulls:26.1(24th in NBA)
Pacers:31.1(10th in NBA)
Bulls:23.1(3rd in NBA)
Pacers:28.7(14th in NBA)
I’m giving a slight advantage to the Pacers here, as the Bulls don’t get to the line that often, as a lot of our points come from jump shooting(I’m looking at you, BOOZ) and the Pacers are better at getting to the line. Both teams are ok when it comes to not putting people on the line.
Based on the four factors, The Bulls shoot and rebound better than the Pacers and the Pacers get to the line better. However, nobody gets the turnover edge, as we are both equally as inept at creating turnovers as we are good in not turning the ball over. According to the Oliver weights on each, shooting and rebounding is more important than free throws, and therefore, Chicago should get the win rather easily.
BlackGallagher’s "I have 30 days of free ESPN Insider, so I might as well post the AccuScore Game Projection" segment:
With the game simulated over 10,000 times, Accuscore has the Bulls winning over 75% of the time, while winning by 10 or more almost 45% of the time.
I don’t think it will be a blowout, as Accuscore thinks it will be. I think it will be a tight game through the first 3 quarters with the Bulls making a run with the Bench Mob early in the 4th and close the game out behind D-Rose.
Accuscore courtesy of ESPN. Please don't sue me!