Two of the top teams in the Eastern Conference square off on Monday night, as the Chicago Bulls travel to Indiana to take on the Pacers. The Bulls have won seven of their last ten games and are in third place, 2.5 games behind the Miami Heat. Indiana has won two straight and are a game back of the Bulls, tied for fourth with the Brooklyn Nets. The game will feature the top two defenses in the Eastern Conference.
Chicago could be shorthanded again after a 93-76 win on Saturday over the Atlanta Hawks. The Bulls were without Kirk Hinrich, Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer against the Hawks. Hinrich won't play against the Pacers, and is expected to miss a week with an elbow injury. Noah and Boozer are listed as day-to-day with foot and hamstring injuries.
Indiana has won 13 straight at home including Friday's 102-89 win over the Miami Heat. The Pacers are tops in the East in defense, allowing just 89.9 points per game this season. That is even better at home, where that total shrinks to just 86.9. Indiana won the first meeting between the two teams, 80-76, at the United Center.
Also on Monday, the Oklahoma City Thunder will host the Dallas Mavericks as they try to keep pace with the suddenly streaking San Antonio Spurs. The Thunder have fallen into second place in the Western Conference after going 6-4 over their last 10 games. The Spurs in that time have realed off a 10-game winning streak and now lead the Thunder by two games in the standings.
It has been a tough start to the season for the Mavericks, who are 20-27 and five games out of the eighth and final playoff spot. Dirk Nowitzki has missed the last two games with a groin injury and is listed as questionable for Monday's game against the Thunder.
Here's the full NBA schedule for Friday via SI.com (all times Eastern):
Chicago Bulls at Indiana Pacers, 7 p.m.
Charlotte Bobcats at Miami Heat, 7:30 p.m.
Dallas Mavericks at Oklahoma City Thunder, 8 p.m.