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Pacers Seek Sixth Straight Win, Bulls to Reunite with Deng

On Wednesday, the Central Division-leading Indiana Pacers (33-7) will take on the Phoenix Suns (23-17) and look to extend their five-game win streak.

The Pacers will bring their defensive game for assistance against the Suns as league leaders in defensive field-goal percentage (40.8) and opponents’ 3-point percentage (32.1). Indiana has limited opponents to a league-best 51.8 percent for shots less than five feet away from the basket but they’ll be challenged by shots taken from greater distances as the Suns’ 3-point game has a 26.0 attempt average–tops in the league-and 36.2 percent shooting.

Paul George

Paul George

On the home court, this is even better for Phoenix, the site of Wednesday’s game, where it rises to 38.5 and a 108.5 point-average for No. 3 in the NBA. Over their last five home games, the Suns have a 115.0 point average. In their most recent game, they defeated the Denver Nuggets (20-20), 117-103.

Look for an interesting matchup between the Suns Channing Frye, who hit five 3-pointers and a season-high 30 points on Sunday, versus the Pacers Paul George, who scored 23 points in Monday’s 102-94 win over the Golden State Warriors (26-17). From the four previous games,  he’s averaged 28.8 points (54.2 percent shooting).

In last season’s two meetings, the Pacers won both of them with George’s 20.0 point average and Roy Hibbert’s 28 points and 21 rebounds. Things happen in threes with another Pacers win (-5.5, 195 o/u) on Wednesday.

For the 2014 NBA Championship, they sit at 7/2 to win it all.

In other Pacers’ news…on Tuesday Lance Stephenson was hit with a $5,000 fine by the NBA for flopping. This represented his second violation for the season and should it happen a third time, the fine will rise to $10,000.

Bulls Reunited with Deng in Cavaliers Matchup

On Wednesday, the Chicago Bulls (20-20) will go up against former teammate Luol Deng for the first time since his trade as they’ll play the Cleveland Cavaliers (15-26).

Joakim Noah

Joakim Noah

Joakim Noah said of the impending reunion via ESPN, “It will probably be weird. It will probably be strange but I still want to kick his ass right now. I feel like we’re working hard in the conference. I love Luol. He’s my brother. But when that ball goes up, he’s not going to be my brother when the ball goes up.”

The team took the Jan. 6 Deng trade hard, including coach Tom Thiobodeau, but they’ve been able to overcome it, going 6-2 since then and for the month, 8-2.

The Bulls are now back at .500 after Monday’s 102-100 OT win over the Los Angeles Lakers (16-26)–a first since Nov. 27. They sit 13 games behind the Pacers and No. 6 in the Eastern Conference.

New teammate D.J. Augustin showed up in Monay’s game with his 27 points from the bench–a season high. In the last four games, he’s had a 20.3 points per game average.

Noah contributed 17 points with a season-high 21 rebounds against the Lakers while Taj Gibson was the game’s MVP with the game-winning basket.

As for the Cavaliers, Deng has a 22.5 point average over his four previous games and since he’s joined them, the team has gone back and forth with wins and losses.

In Monday’s 102-97 loss against the Dallas Mavericks (25-18), Deng scored 20 points while his teammate Anderson Varejao had 18 points, tying a season high, and 21 rebounds.

Deng said of Wednesday’s game, “It will be a little weird, but it’s a big game for us that we want to get. It will be good to see the guys and everything, (but) honestly it’s another game.”

In the team’s three previous matchups, Cavs star Kyrie Irving has struggled, as the Bulls held him to 30.4 percent from the field.  In Monday’s game against Dallas, Irving scored 26 points.

The Bulls are looking for a third-straight win but they won’t get it as the Cavs get the victory (-3).

Chicago sits at 50/1 to win the 2014 NBA Championship.


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