Atlanta Hawks Status Check:
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)
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.