The Indiana Pacers are trying to get their game in shape for the playoffs while also hanging on to the top seed in the East. With the Chicago Bulls at the Fieldhouse on Friday, they will have a chance to work on both at the same time.
The Bulls always bring a playoff-type atmosphere to the Fieldhouse with enough opposing fans to make things electric from the opening tip. From there it will be up to the Pacers to keep that crowd charged up and play the role of poor host to our neighbors up north.
Defense will dominate the day, the the two top defensive teams tangle. The Pacers offense of late makes the thought of a first team to 90-game a nightmare, but the Pacers will have to do their part to keep the Bulls from attacking on offense. A few scrums, maybe a couple of T's would be a welcomed sight, as well. An 'us vs. them' mentality will certainly help the Pacers' effort to play as a closer unit.
The key for the Bulls has been Joakim Noah who has been delivering a versatile game out of the post with his ability to move and pass the ball, not to mention his ability to score even if his form remains busted. It will be interesting to see how the Pacers defend Noah since he has the ability to draw Hibbert away from the rim where he can then lure the Big Dawg into foul trouble. Hibbert seemed to find a spark of confidence in New York and his dislike for Noah should have him ready to attack on the offensive end. If Hibbert can level out that matchup, the Pacers will be in good shape.
But first and foremost, the Pacers have to play this game at a level befitting a playoff preview.
For more on the Bulls, check out Blog A Bull. Also, please add your thoughts and observations on the game in the comments.