Monday night features a matchup of young, Eastern Conference teams as the Chicago Bulls (10-15) take on the Indiana Pacers (14-13). Indiana will host this one from the Bankers Life Fieldhouse, with tipoff scheduled for 7:00 pm ET.
Despite sitting in 11th in the Eastern Conference, new head coach Billy Donovan and the Bulls have a lot to be excited about. There have been noticeable improvements throughout the team, and Zach LaVine is playing at a really high level. The Bulls are 2-2 in their last four games but lost a 125-106 blowout at home against the Los Angeles Clippers in their last game.
After a rough four-game losing streak, the Pacers have now won back-to-back games against the Pistons and the Hawks. In their last win, a 125-113 win over the Hawks, Doug McDermott led six scorers in double digits with 26 points. Myles Turner (19 points, 10 rebounds) and Domantas Sabonis (14 points, 13 rebounds) had double-doubles in the win.
The Pacers are the favorite playing at home. They are -230 to win while the Bulls’ moneyline sits at +190. The spread features Chicago +5.5 while the over/under for total points is 229.5.
By The Numbers
Offensively, Chicago has been the stronger of the two teams. They currently rank 7th in the NBA in scoring, averaging 114.7 points per game. The Pacers rank 16th averaging 112.7 points.
Defensively, it is Indiana that is the much stronger team. They rank 10th in scoring defense, allowing opponents just 111 points per game (104 over their last three). Chicago falls to 27th, allowing 116.1 points per game.
Bulls Trying To Win Despite Depleted Core
While both teams are dealing with some injuries, the Bulls have three players from their regular rotation out for this one. Forwards Otto Porter Jr. (back) and Lauri Markkanen (shoulder), as well as center Wendell Carter Jr. (quad), are all out. Still, the young Bulls will try to take down their conference rival Monday.
Leading the way for the Bulls is guard Zach LaVine. This season, he is averaging 28.1 points on 51.9% shooting, including 43% from behind the arc. He is also chipping in 5.4 rebounds, 5.3 assists, and 1.1 steals per game.
Coby White has also performed well this season. The second-year guard is averaging 15.6 points. While White has been trying to identify his roles as both a facilitator and scorer, he is much better in the latter department. White is also posting 4.6 rebounds and 5.4 assists per game.
Pacers Hoping For Three In A Row
At 14-13, the Pacers sit in 4th in the Eastern Conference and are just four games behind the top-seeded 76ers. With the next two teams within 2.5 games, they will look to continue to keep pace by winning their third in a row.
Leading the way for Indiana is guard Malcolm Brogdon and big man Domantas Sabonis. Brogdon is averaging 21.1 points on 43.9% shooting and chipping in 4.3 rebounds, 6.6 assists, and 1.3 steals.
Sabonis has also been solid, averaging a double-double with 20.8 points and 11.5 rebounds. He is also adding 5.6 assists per game.
Other contributors for the Pacers include Myles Turner (13.5 points, 6.8 rebounds), Doug McDermott (13.3 points, 4.1 rebounds), and Justin Holiday (11.4 points, 4 rebounds).
The Pacers will once again be without T.J. Warren (foot) and Caris LeVert (kidney).
Taking Chicago And The Points
The Bulls are a hard team to beat this year because they have been very boom or bust. As a young team with talent, it is to be expected but makes them more volatile.
Still, they have played relatively well against the spread. In fact, they are 14-11 against the spread of the year and, when looking at the 5.5-point spread in this one, they have only been beaten by over that amount just once in their last eight games.
Also, the Pacers have been a better road team (7-5) than the home team (7-8), while the opposite has been true for the Bulls (4-9 at home versus 6-6 on the road). All things considered, Chicago might not win, but I like them getting six points.