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Bulls vs. Pacers injury report, lineups, game preview

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Can the Bulls earn a competitive loss?

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NBA: Indiana Pacers at Chicago Bulls Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Chicago Bulls (3-19) at Indiana Pacers (13-11)

6:00 p.m. NBC Sports Chicago

Injury Report:

For the Pacers, point guard Cory Joseph is questionable for the game tonight with a sore left shoulder. Glenn Robinson III continues to sit after undergoing left ankle surgery in October.

#thereturn of Nikola Mirotic won’t happen tonight, but it is becoming imminent and could happen as early as Friday when the Bulls travel to Charlotte to take on the Hornets. Antonio Blakeney and Kay Felder started for the Windy City Bulls today. Blakeney casually dropped a franchise record 46 points.

Preview:

Indiana isn’t exactly exciting, and the Chicago Bulls are apparently (according to everybody on this site but me) super boring. So this is a matchup made in heaven, or hell depending on how you want to frame it. Maybe re-signing Nate Robinson would inject some excitement back into the veins of the Bulls organization so that fans can watch games without falling asleep.

Seriously though, watching the game tonight will be hellish if the Bulls can’t find a way to remain competitive in a loss. Chicago is coming off a 113-91 slapping at the hands of the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday night, and have solidified themselves in the outright cellar of the NBA with nine straight losses.

The losing is good, but we need to see competitive losses opposed to blowouts. Head coach Fred Hoiberg lauding moral victories is a lot more convincing when his team loses by three points than when he praises his team for cutting a deficit down to 15 points like he did after the game against Cleveland on Monday.

There’s really no reason to believe the Bulls can beat a solid Indiana Pacers team in a road game tonight, especially when Indiana whacked the Bulls 105-87 on Nov. 10 in the first meeting between the two teams. However, there’s game-to-game variance in any sport, so you never know. Just don’t bet a million dollars on the Bulls, that probably isn’t in your best interest.

In the first matchup between the two teams, Pacers small forward Bojan Bogdanovic scorched the Bulls for 22 points on 8-for-12 from the field (6-for-9 from 3-point land). Victor Oladipo, a legitimate All-Star this season after escaping the shadow of Russell Westbrook over the summer, poured in 25 points of his own in that game. Both Denzel Valentine and David Nwaba need to have much better games defensively tonight than they did against Cleveland on Monday if the Bulls hope to slow down Oladipo who is averaging 23.1 points per game (15th highest in the NBA) this season.

Myles Turner is the younger (21 years old) and more athletic center the Bulls dream about. He’s averaged 14 points and 7.4 rebounds per game this season, while leading the NBA with 2.35 blocks per game. His rim-protecting capabilities will further accentuate the Bulls issues finishing around the rim (looking at you Denzel Valentine, Kris Dunn, and Jerian Grant), and his ability to step out and hit a 3-point field goal (35.7 percent) will bother Robin Lopez who has struggled guarding stretch big men.

For those willing to make the three hour drive from the Chicagoland area to Indianapolis on short notice, there are almost 2,000 tickets still available for as low as $5 on VividSeats.com. It’s a win-win because you get to watch an NBA game cheap without having to deal with the cognitive dissonance associated with lining Jerry Reinsdorf’s pockets with cash by paying to go to the United Center.