Bulls and Pacers wrap season series with loaded injury reports

Share

The Bulls close their season series with the Indiana Pacers Friday night. Both teams will enter the contest banged up, and not for the first time.

On Nov. 3, the Pacers toppled a mostly healthy Bulls squad 108-95 without Myles Turner, Domantas Sabonis or Victor Oladipo. On Jan. 10, Indiana racked up 70 points in the paint sans Sabonis and Malcolm Brogdon in the Bulls’ second game without Wendell Carter Jr. (who went on to miss 22 with a severe ankle sprain) and Otto Porter Jr. And on Jan. 29, the Bulls — without Carter, Porter and Lauri Markkanen — squandered a seven-point lead in the final four minutes of regulation to fall to the Pacers 116-105 in overtime. Victor Oladipo hit the game-tying shot in the waning moments of the fourth quarter in his first game back from a torn quad tendon that sidelined him for a full calendar year, though Indiana again played without Turner. That all adds up to three Pacers wins — each of differing convincingness. 

Exhale. 

Tonight, the Pacers could be without Brogdon — who’s listed as doubtful after suffering a hip injury against the Bucks earlier this week — and Oladipo, who’s missed the team’s last two games with swelling in his right knee. Jeremy Lamb is out for the year, and T.J. Warren, Doug McDermott and JaKarr Sampson are all questionable.

The Bulls will march on without Zach LaVine (quad strain) for the third game in a row. Chandler Hutchison (shoulder sprain) remains out without a timetable, and of course, both Kris Dunn and Luke Kornet’s seasons are as good as finished. LaVine at least was up and active at shootaround this morning, though he likely isn’t due back until next week.

But the Bulls can boast a host of recently-returned cogs, all on minutes restrictions of varying degrees. According to coach Jim Boylen, Carter is “moving closer” to shedding his restriction, though his exact minutes allotment against the Pacers will depend on how he fares in each of his stints. Tonight marks Carter’s fourth game back from that ankle sprain — he’s averaged 22.1 minutes, 6.3 points and eight rebounds on 37.5% shooting in his first three.

Markkanen’s window will bump up to 20-22 minutes (from 18-20) in his second game back from a pelvis injury that sidelined him 15 games, and Otto Porter Jr.’s 20-22 minute limit will remain consistent. Boylen did add that he could deploy Porter to close the game for his defensive prowess and advanced decision-making. 

Ultimately, this is a matchup of teams going in opposite directions. Though the Pacers are fresh off a blowout loss to the Bucks, they’ve won six of their last eight and fourth in defensive rating since the All-Star break. The Bulls are 2-10 in their last 12 and coming off a lackluster 115-108 defeat to the lowly Timberwolves on Wednesday.

After that game, Boylen was as animated as he’s been all season in calling for more toughness and physicality from his team. The Pacers have outrebounded the Bulls by an average margin of 9.7 and averaged 62.7 points in the paint in their previous three matchups. Them having both Turner and Sabonis available tonight makes the Bulls' lives that much tougher.

“This is a big, powerful team. Their physicality is hard on us,” Boylen said of Indiana. “I’m looking for and hoping for improvement in our physicality and rebounding. As we get healthy as we work guys back in that has to be a constant for us, and I think our guys understand that.”

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Bulls easily on your device.

Contact Us