Chicago Bulls (2-4) at Indiana Pacers (2-3)
4:00 p.m., NBC Sports Chicago
Wendell Carter Jr. is probable to play as his thumb continues to bother him.
Domantas Sabonis has been ruled out with a calf injury. Myles Turner is also out with an ankle injury. Victor Oladipo is still out with the ruptured right quadriceps tendon he sustained last season.
Divisions in the NBA.
So much more obscure than in other sports. Like we’re easily rattling off all six divisions in MLB, all eight in the NFL, and probably hockey as well for those who watch it.
But do you even know the names of all the divisions in the NBA? They’re all geographical names so maybe once you get the name of the division you can figure out the teams in each one.
In the NBA, though, there’s like no emphasis anymore on division standings because it has no bearing on the playoff seedings. You play the teams in your division more than the other teams, but besides that divisions don’t mean a whole lot.
The fact that you play teams in the division more should theoretically create division rivals. In the past, the Bulls have had fantastic rivalries with the Indiana Pacers, Milwaukee Bucks, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Detroit Pistons. But all those rivalries have been extremely simmered down over the last couple years, mostly because the Bulls have been really bad.
The Bulls’ biggest rival in the last 10 years hasn’t been a team but a person. His name is LeBron James and he’s in the Western Conference on a team that is really good when the Bulls are really bad. So even he isn’t a rival anymore. Do the Bulls have a real rival right now?
Maybe it can be tonight’s opponent, the Indiana Pacers, again someday.
The Pacers have been solid for the last four seasons, but they are off to a 2-3 start this year. Victor Oladipo hasn’t played this season, still recovering from the ruptured right quadriceps tendon he sustained last season. Malcolm Brogdon has been playing fantastic in his first year with Indiana, averaging a double-double with 22.6 points and 10.2 assists per game. Domantas Sabonis is one of the better young players in the league that you probably didn't realize is a really good player. At 23 years old, Sabonis has averaged 21.8 points per game, but the Bulls are catching a break by missing not only him but also Turner due to injuries.
Sunday surely won’t reach the nostalgia level of Joakim Noah and Derrick Rose’s reunion at the United Center. But there are former Bulls on Indiana.
Doug McDermott has been getting around 17 minutes of run per game in each of his last couple seasons with Indiana. He has shot 40.5 percent on his 3-point attempts during his two seasons with the Pacers and his 3-point attempt rate is 49 percent, which is much higher than it ever was in Chicago. Justin Holiday has a significantly smaller role with the Pacers than he did with the Bulls, but he is still getting up nearly nine shots per 36 minutes of playing time.
The other former Chicago Bull on the Pacers is JaKarr Sampson, who got some run with Chicago last season when the Bulls were throwing out haphazard, G League-laden lineups at the end of the season. Sampson will start along with Goga Bitadze with Sabonis and Turner out.
Without Oladipo, the Pacers are 18-26 dating back to last January.
”I wish we would’ve got the win,” Rose said. “But I felt the love out there. Coming here is always special. Playing here all those years was special. I kind of admit I didn’t cherish the moments that I was supposed to. But you live and you learn. Feeling that energy tonight, it was something to hold on to, for sure.”
On loop forever, please.