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Bulls vs. Pacers game preview and thread: the race for 9th

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Bulls can double-win here

Brooklyn Nets v Chicago Bulls Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Fascinatingly even matchup tonight, after a brutal schedule the Bulls have someone more their speed in the Indiana Pacers.

Indiana is currently 2 games ahead of the Bulls for 9th, the difference between that and 10th being home court in the first part of the play-in tournament. Which is pretty close to meaningless this year, but the Bulls simply need wins no matter the opponent.

It’ll also be a good measurement of how much Nikola Vucevic improves things in the frontcourt. In these teams first matchup the day after Christmas, the Pacers absolutely dominated in the paint led by Domantas Sabonis. In the second, Sabonis was total butt in the paint as Wendell Carter had a solid game but it was just 21 minutes.

Vucevic has been as advertised since arriving. Watching the highlights from the Bulls win Sunday, this play really stood out to me: the quick trigger and confidence (not Stacey King saying ‘confidence’ after a shot goes in) to help bail out LaVine.

The Pacers last played on Saturday, going to overtime and scoring 139 points to beat the Spurs. And that was without Sabonis and Malcolm Brogdon.

Injury Report

For the Bulls Garrett Temple is still out. Daniel Theis is out as well with a personal absence, so there should be plenty of minutes for Lauri that don’t have to be in 3-big formations.

Pacers are listing both Sabonis and Brogdon as questionable still which obviously is a very big deal. I can’t find an update on Jeremy Lamb but he hasn’t played in their last three games.

Game Time: early! 6pm Central, NBC Sports Network