Pacers-Bulls Preview

Although trips to Chicago haven’t traditionally brought out

their best, the Indiana Pacers are one of only two teams to win on

the Bulls’ home floor this season.

When they return to the United Center on Monday night, the

red-hot Pacers will seek their first seven-game win streak in eight

years. However, they will be facing a Chicago team that’s also

searching for a season-high seventh consecutive win and might have

some motivation from the previous matchup.

Including last year’s playoff series, Indiana (23-12) is 4-18 in

its last 22 trips to Chicago, but the Pacers won 95-90 there Jan.

25 as six of their players scored in double figures. They held the

Bulls to 36 second-half points and All-Star point guard Derrick

Rose to two in the fourth quarter.

Danny Granger’s 22 points led the way in that victory and Roy

Hibbert chipped in 20. Chicago got 24 points from Rose and a

season-high 20 from Ronnie Brewer, but All-Star forward Luol Deng

didn’t play due to a torn ligament in his left wrist.

“I’ll never forget how they celebrated just from winning this

game. I can’t wait to play them again,” Rose said.

Rose tied a season high with 35 points Sunday to help the Bulls

win 96-91 at Philadelphia. The Atlantic Division-leading 76ers

missed three shots in the final 1:21 that could have tied the

game.

“It was great knowing we didn’t get distracted toward the end,”

Rose said. “We knew what we had to do.”

The Bulls (31-8), who moved two games ahead of Miami atop the

Eastern Conference, will now try to win seven in a row for the

first time since their nine straight wins to end last season.

They’ll also try to deny the Pacers their first seven-game winning

streak in a single season since Feb. 28-March 12, 2004.

The Pacers also won nine in a row bridging the end of that

season and the start of 2004-05.

Indiana is averaging 104.0 points during its current run and

outscoring its opponents by 17.5 per game. The Pacers blew out New

Orleans 102-84 on Saturday as six of their players scored in double

figures – something that’s happened in Indiana’s last five

contests.

“We’re playing really well right now and playing with a lot of

confidence,” said Granger, who had a team-best 20 points.

The Pacers, who trail the Bulls by six games in the Central

Division and own the third-best record in the East, now must

contend with a Chicago team which is 14-2 at home and has won three

in a row at the United Center.

Rose averaged a team-best 27.6 points in last year’s five-game

playoff series with Indiana, and has scored 28.8 per game over the

last four regular-season matchups in this series.

Granger averaged 21.6 points in last year’s East quarterfinals –

10.4 more than any other Pacers player – and has scored 24.7 per

game in his last nine regular-season matchups with Chicago.

Indiana is seeking a third straight victory over Chicago in the

regular season, but the Bulls have still won 14 of the last 22

matchups between the teams excluding playoffs.