In the final of three meetings this regular season, the Bulls (48-16) will travel to Indianapolis to face the Pacers (42-23). After having clinched the number one seed in the Eastern Conference, the Bulls look to finish the regular season strongly against the Pacers who have locked in the number three seed in the East.
The Pacers have been on tear lately winning 8 of their previous ten games and have been proving to be a legitimate competitor in the playoffs.
After last year’s first round playoff series, the rivalry will continue to heat up so expect the atmosphere to be competitive.
ESPN.com shows the expected starting lineups and they are as follows,
|Chicago (PPG)||Indiana (PPG)|
|PG||D. Rose 22.2||G. Hill 9.7|
|SG||R. Hamilton 12.0||P. George 12.2|
|SF||L. Deng 15.5||D. Granger 18.7|
|PF||C. Boozer 15.1||D. West 12.8|
|C||J. Noah 10.1||R. Hibbert 13.0|
While these lineups are projected, there has been speculation regarding whether or not the Bulls will start and play Rose, Hamilton, and Deng or let them rest in order to be healthy for the playoffs.
However, with the limited playing time Rose and Hamilton have had, the Bulls will probably let the starters play together in order to form some fluidity and cohesion in the back court.
At this point the Pacers do not have much to play for as they are locked into the three seed. Despite letting George Hill, Danny Granger and Roy Hibbert take the night off against Detroit on Monday, the progression of the rivalry since last year’s playoffs has led to a sense of pride between the two teams. I would imagine both teams going at full strength moving into the playoffs.
Expect the Bulls to push for the number one overall seed as they did at the end of last season to secure home court advantage throughout the playoffs. The San Antonio Spurs are tied with the Bulls and are 48-16 and winning the last two games will probably lead to the number one overall seed.