INDIANAPOLIS -- NBA Central Division rivals will square off Saturday night as the Chicago Bulls visit the Indiana Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
The Pacers are 2-3 to start the season but have won both games they've played at home.
Indiana has struggled on the defensive end in the early going. Through five games, the Pacers have the second-to-worst defensive efficiency in the league.
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"We've yet to be a strong defensive team," Pacers guard Paul George said. "We haven't shown that dominance on that side of the ball. I'm concerned by it. We've got the guys to do it. We just haven't done it."
That defense will be put to the test on Saturday against the Bulls, who have averaged 109 points per game.
Forward C.J. Miles echoed Paul George with his comments: "I can't say we're not playing hard, but we're just not playing the way we should be playing as a group."
Miles knows the combination of Wade and Rondo can provide a tough matchup for anybody. "They're playing like Wade and Rondo. They're smart. They're veteran guys. They know how to play the game."
The teams met last Saturday, with the Bulls defeating the Pacers 118-101 at the United Center. That matchup was the second night of a back-to-back for Indiana. This time around, it will be Chicago playing their second game in as many nights.
Doug McDermott came off the bench to score 23 points in their first game against the Pacers. He returned to action against the Knicks on Friday after missing time with a concussion earlier this week.
Michael Carter-Williams will still be out for the Bulls (left knee bone bruise), and Rodney Stuckey will be out for the Pacers (right hamstring strain.)
The Bulls won their first three games of the season, but have dropped their last two. Like the Pacers, they've faced some defensive struggles of their own lately, giving up 107 points to Boston and 117 points to the Knicks.
After Friday's game, Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg was not pleased with the effort. "We didn't get back on defense," Hoiberg said. "Inexcusable things. No real urgency coming out of the gate."
In recent years, the Bulls and Pacers engaged in low-scoring games. But at least in the early part of this season, the teams have now become more offensive-minded.
Both teams rank among the best in the NBA in 3-point shooting to start the season. Dwyane Wade has found his stroke from behind the arc. He already has made more 3-pointers this year in five games than he made all of last season in Miami. He was 5 of 7 from 3-pointer against the Knicks on Friday on the way to 35 points.
Paul George and Jimmy Butler are a few of the best two-way players in the game and they always provide an interesting matchup when these teams gsvr off.
Butler gave props to his former teammates on Friday. "I wish D-Rose and Noah all the best," he said. "They played well against us. We just want to bounce back on Saturday against Indiana."