Pacers trying to end four-game skid against Bulls
INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indiana Pacers will host the Chicago Bulls on Friday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. These two teams have already met three times this season, including a Bulls win over Indiana in Chicago on Monday.
The home teams have won each of the three contests between these teams so far. The Pacers (15-18) have dropped four straight games, their longest losing streak of the season. On the bright side, they've been a much better team at home (11-5) compared with the road (4-13).
Both teams played Wednesday, with Indiana losing to Washington 115-111 and the Bulls defeating the Nets 101-99 behind Jimmy Butler's 40 points.
Both teams are also getting healthier. Monta Ellis returned to action for the Pacers for the first time since Dec. 10, in limited minutes off the bench Wednesday. For Chicago, Michael Carter-Williams is back and the Bulls have their full roster healthy for the first time since the first week of the season.
Paul George has been in the headlines a lot recently after getting fined for comments against officiating. He scored 34 points on Wednesday but is still searching for answers for his team.
"I owe this team more," George told the Indianapolis Star. "I'm going to give more, regardless of what's going on on that court. We have to understand we're a smaller team, so everybody has got to be tied together. We're not a big team like we used to be here. We've all got to have each other's back on the defensive glass."
Butler reached 40 points Wednesday when he hit the game-winning shot. "Everything y'all see me do, I do every night. Over and over again," Butler told ESPN Chicago. "That's where the confidence comes from, is the work that you put in every single day that y'all don't see. But yeah, that's in the repertoire."
Butler has been extremely valuable again this season. When he's on the court, the Bulls shoot 45 percent and outscore their opponents by four points per 48 minutes. When he's on the bench, the Bulls get outscored by 10 points per 48 minutes.
Between Butler and Dwyane Wade, the Bulls have multiple late-game options to go to. It was Wade who made the big play over Indiana in their last meeting.
The Pacers and Bulls are just 18th and 23rd, respectively, in the NBA in scoring so far this season. Their game Monday was a low-scoring affair, but this one figures to see more points as both teams had an off-day on Thursday.
One thing that will be worth watching is how many 3-point attempts the Bulls take. They are last in the NBA in 3-point attempts per game (19.5), but the Pacers give up the third-most 3-point attempts (30.1) in the NBA this season.
It will be the final regular-season matchup between these two teams this season.