Pacers-Bulls Preview

The Indiana Pacers will go for their sixth win in a row when they

visit the Chicago Bulls on Friday night.

The recent hot streak vaulted Indiana (25-12) to third place in the

Eastern Conference behind only the Milwaukee Bucks and Toronto

Raptors. The Pacers have won five straight, 12 of 14 and 17 of 23.

Meanwhile, Chicago (10-28) is headed in the opposite direction. The

Bulls already have endured five losing streaks of at least three

games this season, and they will try to avoid their sixth

three-game skid with a win against the Pacers.

The Pacers expect to have center Myles Turner on the court despite

the fact that he broke his nose Monday in a collision with Atlanta

Hawks forward-center John Collins. Turner likely will wear a face

mask for the foreseeable future but expressed gratitude that his

injury was not more serious.

A three-day break between games gave Turner extra time for the

soreness to diminish. The 22-year-old Texas product is averaging

13.1 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.9 blocks per game in his fourth

season with Indiana.

“I’ve had enough concussions,” Turner said in comments published by

the Indianapolis Star. “I don’t want any more. I was a little

headache-y at first but that was just from the initial blow. Past

two days, no signs of a concussion.”

On the opposite bench, one of the top storylines entering the game

will focus on Bulls rookie Wendell Carter’s playing time. Carter

spent the final 20 minutes watching from the bench on Wednesday as

the Orlando Magic clobbered the Bulls 112-84.

The 19-year-old Carter was the Bulls’ first-round pick (No. 7

overall) this summer and has showed potential to be a core player

going forward with averages of 10.4 points, 6.9 rebounds and 1.8

assists per game in 38 starts. His limited use prompted questions

from media members and fans alike about how sitting rather than

playing could accelerate his development.

“Well, sometimes you learn by sitting, too,” Bulls head coach Jim

Boylen told reporters. “He sees what’s going on in the game. Maybe

you have some introspection. Maybe you realize, ‘I’ve got to play

my minutes better when I’m out there.'”

The Bulls will have a couple new faces, although it’s uncertain

whether they will play Friday after the team pulled the trigger by

reportedly trading shooting guard Justin Holiday to Memphis for

shooting guards MarShon Brooks and Wayne Selden, along with two

second-round picks.

Pacers guard Victor Oladipo will look to continue his career

success against the Bulls. He has averaged 20.1 points per game

versus Chicago, which marks his third-best average against any

opponent behind Oklahoma City (23.3) and Orlando (20.8).

Injuries sidelined Oladipo for 11 games earlier this season, but he

has played the past 10 in a row.

“Any given night, any guy can step up and be ready to play,” Pacers

forward Thaddeus Young said to the Indianapolis Star. “We’ve always

used a ‘next man up’ mentality when somebody’s not feeling good or

somebody’s not doing well.”

This is the third of four regular-season meetings between the

teams. Indiana is 2-0 on the season series so far after posting a

107-105 win in Chicago on Nov. 2 and a 96-90 win in Indianapolis on

Dec. 4, which marked Boylen’s head-coaching debut.

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