Pacers aim for season sweep of improving Bulls
The Indiana Pacers will look to complete a regular-season sweep over the Chicago Bulls when the teams square off Tuesday night in Indianapolis.
Indiana (41-23) has won its first three meetings against the Bulls, with each of those contests being decided by single digits. The Pacers are going for their first four-game sweep of Chicago since the 2001-02 campaign.
Meanwhile, Chicago (18-46) will try to salvage a win against its divisional rival and maintain its recent warm spell. The Bulls are headed toward another lottery pick but have won five of their past seven games.
Indiana sits in the top half of the Eastern Conference standings behind the Milwaukee Bucks and Toronto Raptors, but Pacers coach Nate McMillan is not pleased with his players' current mental toughness. He did not like the way that his team seemed preoccupied by officiating in its most recent game, a 117-112 loss to the Orlando Magic.
"You can talk about a call, but after you talk about that call, you've got to get back to calm," McMillan said to the Indianapolis Star. "The officiating was a distraction.
"There's been a couple games since this (All-Star) break where we are looking at the officiating. We kind of get drunk on emotions out there. Everything is rushing. You're not clear about what you need to do."
Pacers forward Thaddeus Young said he and his teammates needed to focus on willpower rather than whistles. The Pacers are 3-3 since the break and are without Victor Oladipo (knee, out for season) and Domantas Sabonis (ankle), who will miss his fourth straight game.
Bojan Bogdanovic led the Pacers with 25 points his last time out, while Darren Collison finished with 23.
"(We've) got to want it a little bit more when we're going for these rebounds, going for these loose balls," Young said to the Indianapolis Star. "Teams are picking it up after (the) All-Star break. That's what all teams do."
Bulls forward Otto Porter Jr. is expected to return to the lineup after sitting out Sunday against the Atlanta Hawks, following a marathon four-overtime game Friday. Chicago is 6-2 with Porter in the lineup and 0-2 without him since the team acquired him from the Washington Wizards on Feb. 6 in exchange for Bobby Portis and Jabari Parker.
Porter is averaging 19.8 points and 5.9 rebounds in eight starts with Chicago. The Georgetown product is shooting 51.8 percent from the field and 52.2 percent from beyond the arc.
"We want to protect that calf and just his overall soreness," Bulls coach Jim Boylen said to the Chicago Tribune. "He wanted to play (Sunday). That's the kind of competitor he is. But we feel it's best for him and for the team that he takes the day with the amount of soreness he has and how he's feeling."
Meanwhile, second-year Bulls forward Lauri Markkanen will look to continue his hot streak. He has posted a double-double in five of his last six games to increase his season averages to 19.6 points and 9.3 rebounds a game.
Indiana is 24-9 at home this season. Chicago is 11-21 on the road.
--Field Level Media
Updated March 4, 2019