Rose looks to give Pacers something to remember

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Rose looks to give Pacers something to remember

The Bulls come into tonights game against the Indiana Pacers (23-12 3rd in East) with a league best record of 31-8 and also a season high six-game winning streak, but records and streaks aside, this game will have a little bit more to it.

The last time the two teams met was on Jan. 25 with the Pacers winning 95-90. It was the first time Indiana had won in the United Center since a 108-101 win on Mar. 22, 2008.

After the final buzzer, several of the Pacers joined each other in celebrating the win over their Central Division rivals. The reveling of the win spilled off the court into the visiting locker room.

The Bulls watched and heard all of it and weren't happy about it.

"I'll never forget how they celebrated just from winning this game," said Derrick Rose. "I can't wait to play them again."

While Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau stresses that no game is as important as the next one, it's clear that the stakes are even higher when the two teams match up against one another as Indiana views Chicago as a measuring stick of just how close they are to being one of the Eastern Conference elites.

Outside of having a superstar the likes of Rose, the Pacers depth, physicality and attention the defensive end mirrors the principles that Thibodeau has gotten his players to buy into to and it should a playoff-like intensity during tonight's game.

We know that we can play with these guys, said Pacers coach Frank Vogel before tip-off of the Pacers win. They got us in game five (of last year's postseason), were off to a strong start, we feel like were one of the best teams in the east and were excited to compete against these guys.

The difference between this years team and last years team is we have confidence that well score in crunch time, we will score in the fourth quarter, continued Vogel. We didnt have that last year and it cost us the series here. We believe, going into the fourth quarter, that we can get stops and that we can execute well enough to get scores to win these close games.

We were crushed that we didnt win last year, we believed that we were going to win.

NBA Draft Profile: Utah C Jakob Poeltl

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NBA Draft Profile: Utah C Jakob Poeltl

As part of our coverage leading up to the 2016 NBA Draft we will provide profiles of more than 50 prospects, including video interviews with each player, what they're saying leading up to draft day as well as their potential fit with the Bulls.

Jakob Poeltl, C, Utah

7'0" | 230 lbs. | 20 years old

2015-16 stats:

17.2 points, 9.1 rebounds, 64.6% FG, 1.6 blocks, 30.4 minutes

Projection:

Lottery

Quotable:

"I feel like I acvtually fit that style pretty good. Because the league's getting smaller but also you have to be more versatile as a big, you have to do more different stuff like step out a little bit, like be able to handle the ball, be able to pass the ball. And I feel like that's somethign I'm actually pretty good at. So I think I'll fit in pretty well."

Rotoworld mock draft selection:

10. Milwaukee Bucks: Jakob Poeltl, C, Utah – Greg Monroe hasn’t really seemed to gel with Jason Kidd’s offense and defense, but Poeltl has the potential to step in and help on both ends. He has above-average potential as a rim protector, and though not the most athletic player, he is skilled on the offensive end, comfortable in the pick-and-roll, and can make an impact on the offensive boards.

Fit for the Bulls:

It could be an offseason of change for the Bulls' frontcourt, as both Joakim Noah and Pau Gasol are set to become free agents. The Bulls hit on their Bobby Portis selection last year, and adding Poeltl to the mix would give a solid rim protector and post presence. Poeltl would be an excellent complement to Portis' stretch game. And if the Bulls opt to bring back one of Gasol or Noah, Poeltl would have a solid mentor to learn from. He'll become the first Austrian to ever play in the NBA, so the Bulls' fan base would grow exponentially in central Europe, for what it's worth.

The Bulls had the NBA's second best combined record against Cavs, Warriors

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The Bulls had the NBA's second best combined record against Cavs, Warriors

The Bulls' successes this season against the best teams in the NBA have been documented, and only make their inability to make the playoffs all the more baffling.

Those playoffs saw its number of teams dwindled down to two after the Warriors knocked off the Thunder in Game 7 Monday night in Oakland.

That means it'll be a rematch, as expected, between Steph Curry and the Warriors against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The Bulls, like all but nine teams this regular season, lost all their games against Curry's Warriors, which set an NBA record by going 73-9.

But the Bulls had quite a bit of success against James and the Cavs, winning their of their four matchups.

That gave them a 3-3 record against the two teams competing in this year's Finals (they were a combined 6-0 against the runner-ups in either conference, Toronto and Oklahoma City).

That's significant, as only one other team (Detroit) had a combined record .500 or better against the conference champions.

Here's a look at how the 28 eliminated teams fared against the Cavs and Warriors this season.

Rank Team Record Diff
1. Detroit 4-2 +1.8
2. Chicago 3-3 -6.0
3. Miami 2-3 +2.4
4. Boston 2-3 -6.0
5. Portland 2-4 -0.8
6. Toronto 2-4 -4.0
7. Washington 2-4 -4.3
8. Milwaukee 2-4 -6.0
9. San Antonio 2-4 -8.3
10. Minnesota 1-4 -8.8
11. Houston 1-4 -9.0
12. New Orleans 1-4 -11.4
13. Indiana 1-5 -3.1
14. Dallas 1-5 -4.5
15. Charlotte 1-5 -7.1
16. Utah 1-5 -7.3
17. Brooklyn 1-5 -8.3
18. Denver 1-5 -11.3
19. LA Lakers 1-5 -12.8
20. Memphis 1-5 -19.1
21. Atlanta 0-5 -8.6
22. Oklahoma City 0-5 -10.6
23. Philadelphia 0-6 -10.0
24. LA Clippers 0-6 -11.1
25. Phoenix 0-6 -14.1
26. Sacramento 0-6 -14.6
27. New York 0-6 -15.6
28. Orlando 0-6 -17.0

Only four teams beat both Golden State and Cleveland this season: Detroit, Boston, Portland and Milwaukee.

The Bulls' average point differential against the two finalists was -6.0, tied for eighth best in the NBA.

The Bulls had myriad issues against the cellar dwellers - their 9-3 record against the NBA's final four teams was the same as their 9-3 record against the NBA's worst five teams - but they held their own against the game's elite.

NBA Draft Profile: Providence PG Kris Dunn

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NBA Draft Profile: Providence PG Kris Dunn

As part of our coverage leading up to the 2016 NBA Draft we will provide profiles of more than 50 prospects, including video interviews with each player, what they're saying leading up to draft day as well as their potential fit with the Bulls.

Kris Dunn, PG, Providence

6'3" | 205 lbs. | 22 years old

2015-16 stats:

16.4 points, 5.3 rebounds, 6.2 assists, 2.5 steals, 33.0 minutes

Projection:

Top-7

Quotable:

“You’re going to get someone who works hard every day. A guy who has great character. My personality resonates because I’m so goofy, I love to laugh. I like to make other people smile and I’m a very hard worker. I like to say I’m a blue-collar worker,” he said. “Nothing was ever given to me. I go after it with everything I have.”

Rotoworld mock draft selection:

6. New Orleans Pelicans: Kris Dunn, PG, Providence – Jrue Holiday has only one year left on his current deal, so the Pelicans could look to find their point guard of the future here in Dunn. A strong defender and excellent in transition, Dunn could create scoring chances on both ends of the floor, plus he has the passing ability which could continue to help Anthony Davis shine, as long as Dunn can cut down on his mistakes. Perimeter shooting has been an issue for Dunn, though he has looked good at times.

Fit for the Bulls:

The Bulls would likely need to move into the first five selections of the draft to have a shot at Dunn. But they're reportedly intrigued at the idea of having him as the point guard of the future. Though he's already 22, Dunn's size, defensive pressure and ability to play in transition all translate at the next level. He could theoretically learn under Derrick Rose for a year - something he said at the NBA Combine he'd love to do - before Rose becomes a free agent in 2017. A backcourt of Dunn and Jimmy Butler would be one of the best defensive tandems in the Eastern Conference. Then again, to get in position to draft Dunn the Bulls may need to part with Jimmy Butler, an unlikely scenario.