Bulls-Hawks Preview

Atlanta Hawks Status Check:
Record: 40-30
Division: 8-4
Conference: 16-23
Home Record: 17-16
Last 10 Games: 4-6
Streak: Won 1
Last game: Won 104-96 over Detroit
PPG: 95.4 (25th)
Opponents PPG: 95.3 (9th)
Offensive Rating: 106.3 (19th)
Defensive Rating: 106.2 (13th)
Pace: 89.5 (27th)
Effective Field Goal Percentage: .502 (11th)
Turnover Percentage: .135 (19th)
Defensive Rebound Percentage: .745 (11th)
Offensive Rebound Percentage: .239 (26th)
Free Throws Per Field Goal Attempt: .206 (28th)
Opp. eFG%: .491 (11th)
Opp. TO%: .124 (27th)
Opp. FT/FGA: .211 (5th)
Leading scorer: Joe Johnson (18.8)

Stats from Basketball-Reference.com.

Atlanta Injury Report:
None

Overview:
Tonight’s game will be the third time this month the Bulls and Hawks have faced off, and also it will be the last time this season. The two teams split the previous match-ups. Chicago won the most recent, avenging an embarrassing loss on March 2.

What is really surprising from the most recent Hawks-Bulls game is the scoring of the starters. Derrick Rose put up MVP numbers, scoring 34. Luol Deng scored 18. The other three starters? Kurt Thomas, Keith Bogans and Joakim Noah scored a combined 4 points (2-11 shooting). And all of those came from Thomas.

The Bulls still managed to win by 18 points. This exemplifies things that have been said about the team all season. First of all it shows how good the team is on defense. They held their opponent to 76 points on 35.7% shooting.

It also shows how much of a team the Bulls really are. Some of the starters couldn’t score, but the bench stepped up big-time, contributing 38 points. The Hawks bench scored only 26 points.

Speaking of “team,” last night against the Kings, Chicago had eight players score in double figures, including all the starters. (Yes, Keith Bogans started).

The Bulls are going to need their bench again tonight. They’re playing on the second night of back-to-back. Luckily, last night the Kings forgot to show up so the Bulls could rest their starters. Wait, what? That’s the Kings’ regular team…oh wow.

Well anyway, the starters averaged 27.2 minutes (Deng had the most minutes for the starters, logging 33 minutes). This would have been a huge Brian Scalabrine night, but sadly he was inactive. He was probably tired from all the congratulatory high-fives he had to give though.

But the Kings are one of the worst teams in the league, while the Hawks are a solid playoff squad. The same focus that demolished the Kings should get a win against the Hawks, but it won’t be nearly as easy. Chicago has lost six straight games in Atlanta. Their last win at Philips Arena came in April of 2007.

Al Horford vs. Joakim Noah:
These ex-Florida teammates seem to take it up another gear when facing each other, but their teams expect different production. Horford’s scoring is more important to Atlanta than Noah’s scoring is to Chicago. This is evidenced in the two previous games.

March 2: Atlanta wins 83-80
Joakim Noah: 13 points (3-6 from the field), 12 rebounds in 34 minutes
Al Horford: 31 points (13-20 from the field), 16 rebounds in 41 minutes

March 11, 2011: Bulls win 94-76
Joakim Noah: 0 points (0-4 from the field), 11 rebounds in 30 minutes
Al Horford: 6 points (3-8 from the field), 7 rebounds in 40 minutes

I’m not blaming the first game on Noah, that’s not why I did the comparison. There was plenty of blame to go around, especially when you blow a 19-point lead. Rose didn’t shoot well, Boozer’s defense was non-existent (not all that unusual but still a problem). The list goes on. But that’s not the point.

In the first game, Noah scored above his season average, but the Bulls still lost. In the second game he failed to score, but the Bulls won. When Horford scored the Hawks won, and when he didn’t they lost big. It’s not really that simple, a lot goes into a game; but it is clearly an important factor, maybe even a game changing one.

What I’m trying to say is Noah’s biggest contribution will come on the defensive end. I know, I know this isn’t stunning to any Bulls fans. But stopping Horford goes a long way against the Hawks, and Noah’s focus should be on keeping Al in check.

About the Author:
Braedan Ritter was born and raised in Pennsylvania but was swayed by gifts from his aunt to follow the Chicago sports teams. It didn’t hurt that the Bulls had a guy named Michael Jordan playing for them, and the Sixers had…Derrick Coleman. Braedan has stuck with Chicago through thick and thin, and really thin (see: Chicago Cubs). And speaking of Coleman, Braedan is currently a student at Syracuse University.

11 Responses to Bulls-Hawks Preview

  1. kuwabarra@mail.ru'
    Mr Bull March 22, 2011 at 7:33 pm #

    Man i laughed so much about Scal’s high fives)))

  2. Tae March 22, 2011 at 7:43 pm #

    Who designed these schedules?! The Bulls have the most back2backs in the league, and we face the Hawks the first time (and then 2 more) in 3 weeks of March? Doesn’t make sense.

  3. Inception March 22, 2011 at 8:23 pm #

    this is where it “starts”…..all the key components are healthy (relatively speaking) and it’s the final stretch…we can only hope CHI will be playing its best ball now….a W on the road vs. ATL will be a good indication of that.

  4. bullsbythehorns@gmail.com'
    Matt McHale March 22, 2011 at 9:47 pm #

    “Who designed these schedules?! The Bulls have the most back2backs in the league, and we face the Hawks the first time (and then 2 more) in 3 weeks of March? Doesn’t make sense.”

    This is the second year in a row the Bulls have had the most back-to-backs in the league, and they have typically been among the league leaders over the past several seasons. I believe that at least part of the reason behind this has to do with scheduling conflicts at the UC. On the bright side, the Celtics have five back-to-backs in their final 12 games, each of which ends on the road. So the Bulls have that going for them.

    “this is where it ‘starts’…all the key components are healthy (relatively speaking) and it’s the final stretch…we can only hope CHI will be playing its best ball now…a W on the road vs. ATL will be a good indication of that.”

    Agreed. I enjoyed last night’s game, but it was basically a scrimmage against a D-League team. This game matters and should provide and indication of how good the Bulls can be: Second night of back-to-backs, on the road against a good team. Chicago failed that test last weekend in Indianapolis. Every game feels like a crucial playoff game, what with the Bulls and Celtics neck-and-neck for the East’s best record (and the Heat breathing hot down their necks).

  5. inkybreath@gmail.com'
    inkybreath March 23, 2011 at 1:47 am #

    Aha! About halfway through the 3rd quarter…

    I am watching an internet feed, where you can hear the commentators ‘off-air’. It was just a little clip, but I heard one of them say:

    “Mercy rule.”

  6. inkybreath@gmail.com'
    inkybreath March 23, 2011 at 2:40 am #

    Thibs has a point:

    Deng was plus 39 for the game!!!

  7. cliniclysick March 23, 2011 at 4:22 am #

    Beatdown…

  8. prosper.guard@gmail.com'
    MadKing March 23, 2011 at 4:41 am #

    This was the best I’ve seen the Bulls execute all season. D-Rose for MVP is a lock. “Why can’t I be the best player in the league?”

  9. yomomma@hotmail.com'
    Scottie Pimpin March 23, 2011 at 4:59 am #

    call me crazy but i think i see these bulls in the finals this year…..there no way in hell boston or miami gonnna be able to beat a team this deep playing this good.

  10. Luvabull March 23, 2011 at 10:56 pm #

    Matt,

    Can you tell us, why in the world did the Bulls pick up Pargo? Ok. I get the John Lucus as III’rd point guard behind CJ for insurance. But Pargo?

  11. bullsbythehorns@gmail.com'
    Matt McHale March 24, 2011 at 10:07 am #

    “Can you tell us, why in the world did the Bulls pick up Pargo? Ok. I get the John Lucus as III’rd point guard behind CJ for insurance. But Pargo?”

    Pulling players off the scrap pile for injury insurance is always a crap shoot. When good, well-run teams are looking for low-price fill-ins, they usually target character guys (and Pargo is a character guy) who play the required position (in this case point guard), have tangible skills (and Pargo is, *cough*, a three-point shooter) and can fit in quickly, either systemically (they’ve played for the coaching staff before) or chemistry-wise (they’v played with the players before).

    Pargo fits those bills. If, say, C.J. goes down, Pargo’s not that much of a downgrade. And if Rose goes down, it won’t matter who the injury insurance is, you know?

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