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Bulls are back and ready to face Pacers at Fieldhouse

Injuries have muted the rivalry with the Bulls the past few years and now the Pacers are on the wrong side of the pain scale as the Bulls begin gathering steam with better health and emerging weapons.

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The Pacers face a manhood game at the Fieldhouse on Monday night when the Chicago Bulls arrive, no doubt with many of their fans who are unable to see them at the United Center.

Those fans have been noticably absent at the Fieldhouse over the past couple of years while the Bulls admirably trudged through the past couple of seasons with Derrick Rose in various states of disrepair, while also playing with a healthy Carlos Boozer.

The Bulls have won six in a row and nine of their last 10 games with Rose playing in eight of those games, including the last four. Not only is Rose playing, but he's starting to make a bigger impact on the game. Combine Rose trending upward with Jimmy Butler absolutely blowing up this year and the Bulls are a full-fledged problem once again.

The Pacers posted one of their more impressive wins at Chicago in mid-November. Rose was not 'back' at that point and in fact, sat out the game at the United Center. The Bulls did have Joakim Noah, Boozer upgrade, Pau Gasol and the aforementioned Butler. Oh, and the Pacers were without David West, George Hill, Rodney Stuckey and C.J. Miles, not to mention Paul George. So that was an impressive win by the Pacers and should give them the roadmap to a W. They had monster games from Solomon Hill and Luis Scola who combined for 42 points and 23 rebounds. A.J. Price was also huge off the bench, making big plays down the stretch and adding an additional 21 points.

With Price gone, and Solo and Scola in different roles, the Pacers will need different heroes to step up, but as a team, the Pacers will have to bring their best this time around because this current Bulls team appears much different and better than the one that showed up earlier in the year.