Bulls-Hawks Preview

Atlanta Hawks Status Check:
Record: 36-24
Division: 8-3
Conference: 24-12
Home Record: 17-9
Last 10 Games: 4-6
Streak: Lost 1
Last game: 100-90 loss at Denver
PPG: 96.2 (23rd)
Opponents PPG: 95.3 (7th)
Offensive Rating: 106.7 (17th)
Defensive Rating: 105.7 (13th)
Pace: 89.8 (26th)
Effective Field Goal Percentage: .502 (12th)
Turnover Percentage: .134 (18th)
Defensive Rebound Percentage: .749 (10th)
Offensive Rebound Percentage: .240 (24th)
Free Throws Per Field Goal Attempt: .214 (25th)
Opp. eFG%: .489 (10th)
Opp. TO%: .123 (28th)
Opp. FT/FGA: .212 (5th)
Leading scorer: Joe Johnson (19.3)

Stats from Basketball-Reference.com.

Hawks Injury Report:
Kirk Hinrich: bruised right calf (questionable)
Josh Smith: sprained right MCL (out)

Overview:
In his fifth game back, Joakim Noah will go head-to-head against the player who took what probably would have been Noah’s spot on the All Star team had he stayed healthy. Al Horford was the back-up to Dwight Howard on the Eastern All Star team, scoring 2 points and grabbing 3 boards in the game.

Noah was averaging 14 points, 11.7 rebounds and 2.7 assists before having surgery on his thumb in December. Horford averaged 16 points, 9.8 rebounds and 3.6 assists in 51 games prior to the All Star break.

Tonight Noah can show the world who is the better center as the Bulls take on the Hawks in Atlanta, looking to exceed their win total from the last two seasons. And he’ll have more chances in the next few weeks.

This is the first match-up between the two teams this year, but the Bulls play the Hawks three times in the month of March (tonight then at the UC March 11 and back at the Philips Arena March 22).

The Bulls are just 1-6 in the last two years in this series. The lone win came in an overtime game in December 2009. According to Stats LLC, the Bulls have lost five straight at Atlanta by an average of 16.2 points. But Chicago is 13-3 in their last 16 games while the Hawks come in limping figuratively and literally.

Literally: In their last game Kirk Hinrich didn’t play because of a leg injury and high-flying Josh Smith (their second leading scorer and rebounder) left early because of a leg injury of his own. Smith will miss tonight’s game, while Hinrich is questionable. Figuratively: They have won just three of their last nine. Seven of those games were on the road, but the losses include shortcomings against the 76ers and Bobcats.

Even with their recent struggles, the Hawks are in the fifth playoff seed in the East. And this begins Chicago’s run against playoff teams.

Chicago’s next four games will be good tests. Tonight against the Hawks, then road games against Orlando and Miami, and then back home versus New Orleans (Rose vs CP3 round two!).

Stat to Watch:
According to Stats LLC, Joe Johnson is averaging 23.5 points in his last six meetings with Chicago, including two 40-point efforts. That was before Chicago signed stud shooting guard Keith Bogans. In all seriousness, Bogans is a solid defender, so can the combination of Keith Bogans and Ronnie Brewer slow Johnson down?

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.

13 Responses to Bulls-Hawks Preview

  1. Inception March 2, 2011 at 9:08 pm #

    these next three road games are huge, and i’d be VERY disappointed if they lose tonight, considering Smith is out of the lineup…this is the type of game where an elite team sees blood and goes for the kill…2 out of 3 wins would be nice…1 out of 3, meh….0 for 3, panic mode a bit….3 for 3, we’re seeing the best ball of the year.

  2. bullsbythehorns@gmail.com'
    Matt McHale March 2, 2011 at 9:20 pm #

    “these next three road games are huge, and i’d be VERY disappointed if they lose tonight, considering Smith is out of the lineup…this is the type of game where an elite team sees blood and goes for the kill…2 out of 3 wins would be nice…1 out of 3, meh….0 for 3, panic mode a bit….3 for 3, we’re seeing the best ball of the year.”

    Agreed.

    There are a lot of stories circulating right now saying, essentially, “why couldn’t the Bulls win the NBA title this year?”

    I’d love that, of course, but it doesn’t feel like they’re quite ready. Teams don’t usually make a leap from first round elimination to NBA champ, especially in a year with several championship-caliber teams.

    If they don’t win at least two of these games, that will pretty much cement the idea in my mind. They’ve struggled on the road. Gotta prove they can beat the good teams away from the UC.

  3. doubleaccord@gmail.com'
    Tony C. March 2, 2011 at 9:49 pm #

    “Gotta prove they can beat the good teams away from the UC.”

    I agree, Matt, but I wouldn’t underrate the fact that the Bulls are just now, for the first time, on their way to fielding a fully healthy squad. I expect the chemistry between Boozer Rose and Noah (especially) to continue to improve as they spend more time on the floor together.

  4. Luvabull March 2, 2011 at 10:18 pm #

    Why not Bulls in the finals this year. Remember the Nets did it in the first year that Jason Kidd joined the team with a second year Kenyon Martin, a rookie Richard Jefferson, Kerry Kittles at the 2 guard and Jason Collins at center! I’d say these Bulls are better at every position save for SG. And they did it again the following year. Granted the east was Weak (with a capital W) those years.
    While stronger this season, the east contenders this year all have some big chinks in their armour. Orlando has been inconsistant all year (with exception of Superman II), the Heat struggles against good teams are well known, and Boston may just have out smarted themselves out of a championship with the trade of Perkins. The Hawks may have peaked and are on the downswing as a team. The knicks are certainly high on star power but light in the middle and severely lacking defensively.
    Don’t forget, we have a third year greatly improved PG and a forth year visibly improved and quite possibly the second best center in the league, a terrific inside scorer, an improved Do-All Deng and a very solid bench. And for a bonus, a coach that appears to know what he’s doing.
    If Rose can state “Why not me for MVP”, then why can’t the fans think, “Why not Bulls for the championship”.

  5. contrerasadvocates@yahoo.com'
    Savage March 2, 2011 at 10:43 pm #

    Matt and Tony both make great points. The fact remains that this team needs to start stepping it up on the road right now to have a good shot at a title. The playoffs are no place to be learning how to win on the road. I am very happy with this team and the quality basketball they are playing. I’m not complaining just trying to make a point. To survive in the playoffs you need to win on the road and go into those games with confidence. Nothing provides that confidence more then consistently winning games on the road during the regular season.

  6. inkybreath@gmail.com'
    inkybreath March 2, 2011 at 11:59 pm #

    If Korver can get some consistency on the road, it will go a looooong way toward this team’s success.

  7. prosper.guard@gmail.com'
    MadKing March 3, 2011 at 1:53 am #

    Anyone else think that Derrick is forcing up too many threes?

  8. prosper.guard@gmail.com'
    MadKing March 3, 2011 at 2:22 am #

    That loss was fucking bawful.

  9. inkybreath@gmail.com'
    inkybreath March 3, 2011 at 2:39 am #

    So pissed.

    We need to get as far away from former players as possible. Dayum!!!!

    Lots of bad plays for Rose in this game.

  10. bodybagsteven@gmail.com'
    BFD March 3, 2011 at 2:53 am #

    Boy, am I glad we stood pat and didn’t get another shooter. I can’t envision us ever getting cold on the road ever. /sarcasm

  11. inkybreath@gmail.com'
    inkybreath March 3, 2011 at 3:39 am #

    Forget the SG, we made unnecessary turnovers and Rose made some bad decisions.

    Also, Boozer’s aggressive foul seemed to galvanize them…

  12. meifumado96@hotmail.com'
    Matt March 3, 2011 at 4:38 am #

    Very disappointing. I’m kind of new to basketball, but that was very disheartening. What exactly do you guys think should be taken away from this loss? What does it really mean? I would like to think they just had an off night.

  13. bodybagsteven@gmail.com'
    BFD March 3, 2011 at 7:44 am #

    And Noah was forcing things the wrong way, and nobody could hit a shot down the stretch, I know. I’m just pointing out that we will be falling short because of pride and ‘chemistry’. You know what other team critics said had good chemistry, that the guys just loved playing with each other? Cleveland the last 3 years.

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