CHICAGO, IL -- The Indiana Pacers saw their four-game winning streak come to an end in Chicago at the United Center. The Pacers lost to the Bulls by a score of 103-94. Indiana is now 4-2 in the preseason, while, Chicago finished the preseason with a 3-4 record. The Pacers have one more pre-season game remaining, and it is against the Charlotte Hornets on Thursday (October 22nd) in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
All was well for the Pacers in the first quarter. The only time the Pacers trailed was when Chicago was up 2-0 with 11:18 remaining in the quarter. The Pacers were only tied once as well, when the score was 2-2 at the 10:55 mark. From that point on, the Pacers never trailed or tied with the Bulls in the first quarter. Indiana held a 34-24 lead at the end of the opening quarter.
The first quarter was a big time success for the Pacers. Paul George had 15 points (6-8 FGM-A, 2-4 3PM-A, 1-1 FTM-A) and the starters looked like a well put together unit on both sides of the floor. It appeared that Monta Ellis was integrating successfully with the starters, which was great for the team to see.
The success ran out for the Pacers during the second quarter. This was because of the fact that the Pacers subbed out their three top key players (Paul George, Monta Ellis, and George Hill). The bench unit was absolutely horrendous in this game, but luckily for the Pacers, a few players that didn't do well won't be in the rotation during the regular season.
The Pacers managed to score only 11 points as a team in the second quarter. The Bulls scored 24 points, which was enough to hold a 48-45 halftime lead. Chicago chipped away at the Pacers' lead throughout the entire first half of the second quarter. But the Bulls finally took the lead at the 5:20 mark, courtesy of a Tony Snell three-pointer. Chicago had full control of the second quarter.
Indiana had a bounce back performance in the third quarter, but the Bulls outperformed the Pacers by a score of 29-24. The Pacers never held a lead at any point of the third quarter, as this was another quarter that the Chicago Bulls had full control. The same happened in the final quarter, as Indiana never held a lead then either.
Chicago outscored the Pacers, 26-25, in the final quarter. The Bulls won the game, 103-94, and had full control of the game after the first quarter. Four key players in the starting lineup (Paul George, Ian Mahinmi, George Hill, and Monta Ellis) were the only players on the Pacers to have a good performance. Lavoy Allen had a quality game as well, but his defensive effectiveness tanked because he spent significant time with the bench players.
Paul George led the way for the Pacers, he recorded the following; 35 MIN, 26 PTS, 8-18 FGM-A, 4-7 3PM, 6-7 FTM-A, 13 REB, 0 AST, 2 STL, 1 BLK, 2 TO, 3 PF, +6 (+/-). George had his production in a versatile manner, as he scored from shooting off the dribble, from catch and shoot, getting to the rim, from moving without the ball, in the pick-and-roll, in transition, from the free-throw line, and from rebounds.
Below are the highlights from George's individual performance:
As a team, the Pacers did a tremendous job of taking care of the basketball, making quality passes, rebounding on both sides of the floor, getting to the free-throw line, creating turnovers, defending the paint, scoring in the paint, and scoring in the fast break.
But they did struggle with executing on open/easy jump shot attempts from mid-range and the perimeter, executing from the free-throw line, spacing the floor, creating open/easy shot attempts, making defensive rotations, defending open mid-range and perimeter jump shots, defending individual assignments (mainly perimeter bench players), and overall team defensive rotations.
For reference, the starters for the Pacers were George Hill, Monta Ellis, Paul George, Lavoy Allen, and Ian Mahinmi.
The Pacers bench unit was C.J. Miles, Rodney Stuckey, Joseph Young, Chase Budinger, Solomon Hill, and Shayne Whittington.
A few of the players that played in this game would not normally receive minutes during the regular season when the team goes with a traditional lineup. Indiana did not have Myles Turner or Jordan Hill due to injury. That means that Shayne Whittington, Solomon Hill, and Chase Budinger would likely be out of the rotation.
Here is the projected rotation that the Pacers will use during the regular season in traditional scenarios:
PG: George Hill, Joseph Young
SG: Monta Ellis, Rodney Stuckey
SF: Paul George, C.J. Miles
PF: Jordan Hill, Lavoy Allen
C: Ian Mahinmi, Myles Turner
Here is the projected rotation that the Pacers will use during the regular season in small ball scenarios:
PG: George Hill, Joseph Young
SG: Monta Ellis. Rodney Stuckey
SF: C.J. Miles, Solomon Hill/Chase Budinger/Glenn Robinson
PF: Paul George, Jordan Hill
C: Ian Mahinmi, Myles Turner
Frank Vogel stated that he wants to go with a 10-man rotation during the regular season. But he intends to shorten that rotation during the playoffs. There are various positions on the roster that could see changes as individuals develop, but the above projections are what current knowledge projects.
The Pacers' starters looked significantly more comfortable playing alongside each other, specifically Monta Ellis. Indiana struggled with their first unit's cohesiveness, but it appears that they have really managed to make significant progress over the past few games. Of course there is still work to be done, but the starters appear to have built a good amount of chemistry together.
It is a much different story for the second unit and beyond. But that is not a big deal considering the fact that the team hasn't used their normal bench rotation. Once Jordan Hill and Myles Turner return, the rotation should go to what the team will use during the regular season. That alone should improve the unit as a whole, because a few significantly less talented players would be made inactive.
It will be important for the Pacers to use their normal rotation during their final preseason game. Myles Turner is going to be playing in preseason finale, and Jordan Hill is expected to as well. It is important that the bench builds chemistry together, especially since the Pacers are likely going to go with their small-ball rotation against the Hornets. The starters should simply look to not get hurt, and to also continue building their chemistry as a unit. Things have looked well for the Pacers' starters in their recent games; they should look to continue that trend in their preseason finale.