After a hard-fought, five-game series in the first round of last season's playoffs with the Indian Pacers, it seems as if a rivalry is beginning to the develop between the two divisional foes.
"The way last year ended and every game we've played against them has been tough, it's been physical," Ronnie Brewer said. "It's a real close opponent and they're a very proven team. They've got a lot of talent on their team and it's always going to be a tough game when we play them."
The Bulls play the Pacers for the first time this season tonight at the United Center. They played both preseason games against the Pacers.
The Pacers are much-improved this season, second in the central division behind the Bulls with an 11-5 record after dealing with injuries last year, and have added George Hill and David West to their roster.
"They're a divisional team," Tom Thibodeau said. "The proximity, they're good. But every team we face is good. You have to be ready for everybody. So they're a very good team and we got to be ready for them.
"They already had a quality team with quality depth and they've added to it and they've gained experience. So, that's what I think makes them so good."
Tom Thibodeau said that he will go with the same starting lineup he did Monday against the Nets which included Brewer starting in place of the injured Luol Deng.
The Bulls coach would not, however, commit to Brewer starting long term while Deng rests his injured wrist.
"We'll see how it goes," Thibodeau said. "What Ronnie has shown is that whether he's starting for Rip or starting for Luol--and he's started a number of games in this league--is that he can handle starting. He handles coming off the bench. I thought last year him coming off the bench was a great asset. I value greatly what a guy like that can bring coming off the bench. So in some ways I do miss what he brings off the bench but I also like what he does as a starter."