Chicago Bulls Stat Monkey Brief: Bulls/Pacers (12/26/12)

A Central Division matchup, Noah and the gang will need to break through Indy's No. 1 defense to win.

The Bulls take on the Pacers tonight after a shellacking by the Rockets on Christmas Day. The Pacers lead the Bulls by half a game in the Central, and edge the Bulls in numberFire's nERD rankings, 55.6 to 54.5, which expects the Pacers to ever so slightly pace the Bulls in overall record this season.

Aside from the Bucks, who have managed to hang around in the standings, these two teams are really the front runners for the division crown, making every game crucial. Chicago fans can only hope the struggling Bulls offense can take overcome the No. 1 defense in the league tonight.

Last Time Out

The last time these teams faced off, the Bulls lost a nail biter at the United Center 80-76. A late no-call on a Luol Deng drive handed the Bulls the L, though many (myself included) thought he should have ended up shooting free throws with a chance to tie.

However, the story of the last matchup was Paul George who managed to stay extremely efficient (126 Offensive Rating) despite attempting 25 field goals. George went 14-25 and 5-5 from the line to post a game-high 34 points. Aside from George, both teams were very lackluster on offense. An off night from Joakim Noah (4-9, 9 Points, 73 ORtg) and a goose egg from Taj Gibson (0-5, 0 Points, 33 ORtg) likely cost the Bulls the game. You can see the highlights (i.e. the Paul George show) here.

Tonight’s Matchup

It’s another very even matchup as two of the best defenses square off tonight. Neither team has much to write home about on offense and the Bulls and Pacers rank 25th and 27th in pace respectively, meaning this should be another low-scoring affair. Also an interesting note, the Pacers have an over win percentage of .571, but at home are an impressive .727 mark even though they have worst attendance in the league.