The rivalry is back. The Chicago Bulls will make their only visit to Bankers' Life Fieldhouse on Wednesday, but with both teams already comfortably seated in their playoff spot, the usual rivalry flair has a bit of an anticlimactic tune associated with it.
So, with nothing on the line come April 25th, what should do the Pacers do? Play or sit?
This really comes down to two very different viewpoints: One belongs to a vindictive crowd with a very large rivalry chip on their shoulder, the other belongs to a more calculated group relying on more than just physicality to make a point.
Viewpoint #1 - The "Nothing's better than a Jeff Foster MVP Flagrant" Crowd
Play them. Play them all. Remember the Bulls' fan invasion at Conseco? Remember the Derrick Rose-referee pact? No matter if it's Rose's back, ankle, knee, toe, or metrosexual expose, drill it, bust it, deflate it, or whatever other rivalry action term is most appropriate, do it. Don't just play them all...celebrate, too. Pull out your Joakim Noah pistols no matter the monotony of the play. Scream and dance in the locker room post game. Make it so Derrick won't ever forget. It's a rivalry, play every Blue-and-Gold, trashtalking-playmaking card you've got.
Viewpoint #2 - The "Kill Them Softly" Approach
Don't play them. Sit any major rotation player you can. Make them feel the indifference. Make them feel as though the 3-seeded Pacers are above regular-season theatrics. This is about the playoffs and beyond, not some trivial score to settle. Don't give the season-long hampered Mr. Rose legitimate competition to warm-up against; to gain playoff traction against. Let "And-1!" Boozer thrive, then watch with glee as he falters come playoff time; come the Bulls' need a legitimate 2nd option time. Enhance the rivalry. It's time to wage psychological warfare.
What viewpoint do you fall under?