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Bulls vs. Pacers preview and thread: can shorthanded Bulls compete with a good opponent?

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The Bulls will be looking to bounce back after getting outscored by 15 in the second half against the Clippers on Friday

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LA Clippers v Chicago Bulls Photo by Jeff Haynes/NBAE via Getty Images

It’s been rough sledding for the Chicago Bulls in February. Despite picking up key wins against fellow playoff spot contenders in the Knicks and Magic, Chicago has gone just 3-4 this month including losing two of their last three. They rebounded nicely from a bad defeat against Washington with a win against New Orleans thanks to a historical three-point shooting night. However, the momentum didn’t carry over to last Friday night as they were beaten 125-106 to the LA Clippers. Chicago hung around in the first half and were only down four heading into the break. But the second half was dominated by the visitors as Kawhi Leonard’s 33 points helped improve the Clippers away record to 11-4. The loss knocked Chicago’s record down to 10-15, which is good enough for 11th in the East. They remain a half game behind the Hawks and Heat and a full game behind the Toronto Raptors who are in eighth at the moment.

Now Chicago embarks on a three game road trip which involve a couple of matchups against some of the best teams in the East. Their first test will be tonight against the Indiana Pacers. With a record of 14-13, they are sitting fourth in the East and also are just one of four teams in the conference with an above .500 win percentage. After losing three straight games to the Pelicans, Jazz, and Nets, Indiana has rebounded with back to back wins. Their latest victory came Saturday night against the Atlanta Hawks. They shot 50 percent from the field and scored 41 points in the fourth quarter alone to win 125-113. Indiana got a big boost from former Bull Doug McDermott as he had 26 points to lead all scorers. With Victor Oladipo now traded to Houston, there isn’t just one main offensive threat on the Pacers. They have multiple guys who can score twenty points a night including Domantas Sabonis and Malcolm Brogdon.

The last time these two meet was early in the season and it was a blowout as Indiana beat Chicago 125-109. Sabonis had a triple double with 22 points, 11 assists, and 10 rebounds as the Pacers had five guys scoring in double digits. Chicago has to make sure that Sabonis doesn’t burn them again.

Injury Report: The Bulls will still be missing some key players as Lauri Markkanen continues to be out with a right shoulder sprain while Otto Porter will miss tonight’s game due to lower back spasms. Chandler Hutchison is listed as out tonight as well with a lower right leg contusion. There is some positive news however as Wendell Carter Jr. has been upgraded to questionable with a right quad contusion after being ruled out for a couple of weeks with that injury. K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago reported that WCJ practiced yesterday, which could suggest that he’s possibly nearing a return.

Meanwhile for Indiana, T.J. Warren is still out with a stress fracture in his left foot while McDermott is questionable with a sore right knee.

Game time: 6PM CT

Odds: Indiana opened as a six and a half point favorite but the line has moved slightly to Indiana (-5.5). The over/under at most places is set at 225 but you can find totals at 224.5 as well (all info via the Action Network)