January 29, 2023

Chicago will open up a three-game road trip when it travels to Indiana for an Eastern Conference matchup on Tuesday night. The Bulls haven’t played a real road game since Jan. 11 — this story came out ahead of their game against Atlanta on Monday. Indiana is riding a seven-game losing streak and has suffered a 112-107 setback at Phoenix.

The Bulls are preparing for the second leg

Chicago has been extremely volatile this season, alternating almost exclusively between small win streaks and small losing streaks. The Bulls won three straight games against Brooklyn, Philadelphia and Utah earlier this week before losing straight games to Boston, Washington and Oklahoma City. They rallied with victories over Golden State and Detroit, beating the Warriors by 14 points as a 6-point underdog. Chicago followed with their 126-108 win over Detroit as a 7.5-point favorite in Paris, shooting 54.3% from the floor. Shooting guard Zach LaVine led with 30 points and knocked down 10 of 20 shot attempts.

The Bulls got back into action with a game in Atlanta Monday night, but that story was released ahead of that contest. They’ve been a solid offensive team this season and ranked 13th in the NBA in points per game (114.8). This is a good matchup for the Bulls as they face an Indiana defense which is ranked 23rd (116.8). DeMar DeRozan leads Chicago with 26.1 points, 5.1 rebounds and 4.9 assists per game. LaVine adds 24.1 points and 4.6 rebounds while big man Nikola Vucevic adds 17.5 points and 11.0 rebounds. The Bulls had to do without the sick veteran Goran Dragic on Monday, who is questionable for this game. Point guard Lonzo Ball is sidelined with a knee injury.

Pacers on a seven-game losing streak

Indiana started the season 10-6 but lost 10 of their next 15 games. The Pacers placed one game under the .500 mark at this point, but were able to win eight of their next 10 games. Their two losses during this period were on December 26 against New Orleans and on January 4 in overtime against Philadelphia. Since that hot period, they’ve played terribly, losing seven games in a row. Indiana went on a four-game road trip last week, losing to the Bucks, Thunder, Nuggets and Suns. The Pacers were single-digit underdogs in all four losses and failed to cover the span in every contest.

In fact, they only covered the spread once during their seven game worse. They had one of the worst shooting rates of the season on Saturday, putting down just 37.5% of their field goal attempts. Indiana is without star guard Tyrese Haliburton, who is expected to be out until at least the end of the week with a knee injury. Haliburton, who averages 20.2 points and 10.2 assists per game, was sidelined for six games. The Pacers still have Buddy Hield, Bennedict Mathurin and Myles Turner, each averaging at least 17 points per game. They rank 12th on offense in the NBA (115.0) and face a Chicago defense, which ranks 18th and allows 115.0 points per game.

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I don’t think I can support Indiana until Haliburton is back in the lineup as the Pacers looked like a completely different team without him on the court. Not only have they lost seven games in a row, but they only covered the spread once during that stretch. Their lost slide almost entirely coincided with Haliburton’s injury, so I’m trying to stay away from the Pacers. This isn’t the worst planning point for Chicago either, although it’s the second leg of a back-to-back. The Bulls had four days off following their trip to Paris, giving them a rested squad for this two-game stretch.

Prediction: Chicago

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This game is played at a fast pace as both teams like to get out and push the ball in the transition phase. Chicago ranks 14th in the NBA for average ball possession length, while Indiana is even faster at 6th. The Pacers haven’t lost speed on court without Haliburton as Mathurin is one of the fastest young players in the NBA. Chicago have been playing well lately and it shouldn’t have anything to do with rust in the second leg of this tackle. I expect a lot of points to be scored when these teams go head-to-head on Tuesday night.

Prognosis: Off

Written by
Blake von Hagen, “Blake V.”

Blake is a lifelong sports fan and basketball junkie. Before joining our team at Winners & Whiners and StatSalt, Blake worked for several newspapers and websites. He enjoys combining his beat writing expertise with a talent for finding the winning edge in a matchup. Blake is also an avid sports expert and you wouldn’t be disappointed to follow him on a daily basis. Remember, it’s a marathon, not a sprint.

Follow @Blake_Vonhagen on Twitter

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