Chicago Bulls: Matchup against Sabonis is Key vs. Pacers

Domantas Sabonis, Thaddeus Young, Chicago Bulls (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Domantas Sabonis, Thaddeus Young, Chicago Bulls (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

With Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr. both out due to injury, the Chicago Bulls are left extremely thin in the frontcourt. This spells trouble for Monday night’s matchup against Domantas Sabonis and the Indiana Pacers.

Since they lost Markkanen, the Bulls have given up 51.5 points in the paint compared to the 47.8 points in the paint they give up in the paint on the season as a whole. That’s an especially adverse turn for the worse when your next opponent is a division rival who excels at scoring at the rim.

It’s worth noting that 47.5 percent of the Pacers’ points come in the paint, the third-highest mark in the league. That’s in part thanks to the post presence that is 2019-2020 All-Star Sabonis.

When the Bulls last faced off against the Pacers, Sabonis tore apart the Bulls’ interior defense with his post scoring and passing vision, totaling a triple double of 22 points on 8-of-11 shooting from the field, along with 10 rebounds, and 11 assists.

That game featured an entirely healthy starting frontcourt, with Patrick Williams, Markkanen, and Carter Jr. all playing. If Sabonis put up those numbers against the Bulls’ A-team, who knows what he is going to do against this current roster.

Match ups for Chicago Bulls vs. Pacers

The Bulls have especially struggled against the pick and roll across their past few games. Having a weakened frontcourt rotation has left them vulnerable to running big men and cutting guards. This will be especially bad with Sabonis rolling to the basket, and co-star Malcolm Brogdon handling the ball on the perimeter.

The Indiana duo is not the flashiest in the league, but they know how to run plays with efficiency and efficacy.

If the Bulls don’t find a solution to plug their defensive holes, Brogdon and Sabonis are going to pick them apart. With Coby White likely guarding Brogdon on the perimeter (114.5 defensive rating), there won’t be much stopping Brogdon from finding Sabonis down low.

It will entirely be up to the likes of Daniel Gafford and former Pacers teammate Thaddeus Young to slow Sabonis down if the Bulls want to bounce back from Friday’s loss against the Clippers.

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The Bulls take on the Pacers Monday night at 6:00 p.m. CT at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on Feb. 15. The Bulls come into this game sporting a record of 10-15, while the Pacers come in with a record of 14-13.