The Hawks are coming! The Hawks are coming!

The mystery is over.

The Bulls will face the Atlanta Hawks in the second round of the NBA playoffs.

I plan to publish my full Hawks-Bulls preview this weekend.

For now, a few thoughts:

First things first. By the Horns reader inkybreath asked: “Am I missing something … did Orlando have any business losing to the Hawks?”

Well, if anything, the Hawks-Magic series proved beyond doubt what many people either suspected or believed was true: That Orlando has surrounded Dwight Howard with a deeply flawed supporting cast. Gilbert Arenas is finished as an elite player. Hedo Turkoglu isn’t the same player for the Magic that he was during their run to the 2009 NBA Finals. Jameer Nelson is scrappy but small and limited. Nobody other than Howard plays defense. They don’t have a true backup center.

So on and so forth.

That said, Orlando lost Games 3, 4 and 6 by a combined total of 10 points. The Magic were beaten (more or less) by an unintentionally banked three-pointer by Jamal Crawford in Game 3. Jason Richardson was suspended for Game 4. What’s more, after shooting 36.6 percent from three-point range during the regular season, the Magic converted only 26 percent of their threes against the Hawks. If they hit their normal percentage of threes, they probably win those three close games. If J.J. Redick — a 39.7 percent three-point shooter — knocks down a wide open three in the closing seconds of last night’s game, the Magic would have forced overtime.

I guess what I’m saying is, while it’s not totally surprising that a flawed Orlando team got upset, there are also some extenuating circumstances.

And now the Bulls have to face the Hawks.

The Hawks won 44 games during the regular season, but they weren’t an overpowering anybody, no matter how you look at it. They ranked 13th in Defensive Rating (107.0) and 20th in Offensive Rating (106.1). They ranked 17th and 18th, respectively, in the Basketball-Reference Simple Rating System (-1.10) and Expected W-L (39-43) metrics.

Furthermore, according to Hoopdata, the Hawks rank 30th in field goal attempts at the rim (20.0) and second in shot attempts from 16-23 feet (23.6). But even though they like long jumpers, they rank only 16th in three-point attempts (17.4). Furthermore, they convert only 35.2 percent of their threes, which ranks 18th league-wide.

My point is this: The Hawks don’t get a lot of high percentage shot attempts in the immediate vicinity of the basket. They’re a jump shooting team. This explains (in large part) why they rank 29th in free throw attempts (1728) and 27th in Free Throws Per Field Goal Attempt (.209).

Why are these factors important? Because the Bulls are a great defensive team. Historically speaking, great defensive teams usually have a lot of luck against jump shooting teams.

I’m not trying to be dismissive of the Hawks. Far from it. Atlanta has several talented and athletic players.

But there is nothing the Hawks do on offense that the Bulls can’t stop.

The real question is: Have the Bulls solved their own offensive woes from the first round? I’m more worried about what the Bulls are doing than what the Hawks are going to do against them. How’s Derrick Rose’s ankle? And Boozer’s toe? Can Tom Thibodeau diversify the offense and minimize the team’s all-out reliance on Rose?

More this weekend.

17 Responses to The Hawks are coming! The Hawks are coming!

  1. bscholtens@hotmail.com'
    Brad S. April 29, 2011 at 3:46 pm #

    Hey, I am just glad that I can stop reading “8 Points, 9 Seconds”. They seem like nice guys over there, but those spider graphs were about to make my head explode.

  2. Inception April 29, 2011 at 4:14 pm #

    we may have lucked out by not facing ORL….their outside shot was cold vs. ATL, but could’ve been hot vs. CHI…that’s how it works for a jump-shooting team.

    either way, ATL should not be overlooked….round 1 was a good lesson for us fans….hopefully.

  3. hellajax@gmail.com'
    BULL4EVER April 29, 2011 at 4:22 pm #

    The Hawks are coming…yeah okay, those losers from Indy were coming too and yet they easily went down without a fight in 5 games, one difference,Atlanta doesn’t ever shoot their mouth off at all like L.A and Miami,so I’m not as eager to see Chicago beat their tails and grills down to the wire like those Pacers in round 1, not to mention – I will be totally looking forward to seeing Boston in the East Finals because I know they will destroy those losers from south beach in four or five games and yet I won’t even be as eager to watch these Bulls beat their tails and grills down to the wire either, unlike L.A or Miami if Chicago ever sees these two teams later in the postseason.I want to see Chicago totally beat down these two trash-talkers like Miami and L.A instead of everyone else in this postseason.Chicago,San Antonio and Boston have always been total class-act organizations who have been winning and winning without the slightest arrogance and this is what I have always totally digged in sports and in reality, which is something called zero arrogance like these three NBA organizations. GO BULLS!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. The Rock April 29, 2011 at 4:42 pm #

    good point on not being dismissive of the Hawks, thats what I did with Indiana and we all seen what happened there. Nothing is easy. But in my honest opionion the Pacers series will show to be more difficult than this upcoming Hawks series. I just feel Indiana matched better with the Bulls. Now Hinrich may be out, I know his absence is not a ‘make or break the series’ type of abesnce but nontheless they will be missing something without him. I feel its the Bulls in 5 or 6, but we need to have the one game at a time mentality. Boozers performance will have a lot to do as to how difficult this series may be. Go Bulls!

  5. Dude April 29, 2011 at 4:56 pm #

    I’m having trouble imagining the Hawks winning a game this series… I don’t think they have the players to show the same intensity on D that Indy was capable of, especially without Kirk (poor Kirk). If the bulls carry over the energy from game 5 and play 48 minutes we’ll be heading to Atlanta with a 2-0 lead and an opponent ready to pack it in if things don’t go their way early in game 3.

    I guess confidence goes a long way in this league and they should be feeling good, but other than Horford, who’s been a beast against us, does anybody see another player on that team playing consistently well against us? Crawford? No way…

    It’s like Matt said, the series is way more about us and our game. Hopefully we can keep it together and relax a bit while Miami and Boston fight it out.

  6. cliniclysick April 29, 2011 at 5:48 pm #

    @BULL4EVER

    a) How old are you?
    b) What are you on?

    I’m really getting fed up with your total lack of respect for every other team, coach, star player, etc. in this league.
    Your posts are dumb, uninspired, full of inaccuracies or simply figments of your imagination. Just one asinine rant after another. You’re repeating yourself over and over again, without any glimpse of insight into the games. Is that all you can post here? It’s embarrassing, so as Stacey would say: “Stop it. Just stop it.”

  7. illaform@att.net'
    Dreoz April 29, 2011 at 7:32 pm #

    The Bulls are good next round and beyond. Their theme is playing to the level of thier competion. They played Indiana like they knew they could beat them at any given time instead of just beating them period. They played a lot of rope-a-dope that series. Now they’ll be playing against deeper comp; and their level of play will reflect that. Prediction…Bulls 4- 2.

  8. Bulls4Life April 29, 2011 at 8:45 pm #

    I totally agree that the pacers where a match up nightmare for the bulls. The second round will still be tough games, but there is NO WAY are offense plays as bad as they did in the first round. The pacers played inspired defense throughout the series,I was honestly impressed. I also believe that that tough, physical series was just what the bulls needed.(Huge Wake-Up Call)Atlanta will be ready but if captian kirk isnt 100% he will have an even harder time trying to stop D Rose. Boozer is gonna play better turf toe or not. Kinda hard to play any worse than he has. Im really looking for the Bench Mob to step up in this series. Kurt thomas should get some run guarding horford, as well as the Turkish Hammer Asik. I personally wanna see Brewer get back to late season form. He was a defensive beast late in the season and now due to his sparined thumb seems lost. Cant wait to get this series going. One last thing please dont confuse me with Bulls4ever. While I hate the lakers soooooo damn much and the heat are gaining on them quick your post was pretty ridiculous. Those are the only two teams that scare me, I really hope they both are tested in the second round.

  9. jeffrey.d.ross@gmail.com'
    Jeff April 29, 2011 at 8:51 pm #

    Garnett & Rondo are class acts?

  10. mic_a_chav87@hotmail.com'
    Micdiddy April 29, 2011 at 9:48 pm #

    The Pacers played extremely well, the Bulls played rather poorly, and we still won in 5. Against the Hawks our greatest enemy will be ourselves.
    The reason why the Pacer’s series got blown out of proportion is because the Bulls were only the most consistent team during the regular season. We rarely ever lost a game because we beat ourselves (which is why we rarely lost period). We were the only team without a 3 game losing streak because we consistently brought our game.
    Against the Pacers we brought a B or C game for 4 games straight, that’s why everyone freaked out, because we did what most had already done during the regular season (Lakers, Heat, Celtics, Spurs, etc. all went many game stretches playing poorly).
    The Pacers and Hawks have no chance against the consistent Bulls team that played 82 games.

    What I will say, though, everyone seemed to love the Pacer’s “scrappiness,” and thought it attributed to them playing so well. Well, if “scrappy” means not executing well designed plays and taking lots of outside shots without even considering passing the bull, the Hawks are WAY more scrappy than the Pacers.

  11. Matt April 29, 2011 at 10:11 pm #

    Dont suppose the Bulls still remember that really embarrassing comeback Atlanta made cause that could make this an…interesting series intensity wise.
    Honestly I don’t think the offense was that big of a problem. Indiana was playing really rough defense and getting away with a lot. Physical play, discipline, and hustle aren’t really high on Atlanta’s resume.

  12. popemanage@yahoo.com'
    deron April 29, 2011 at 10:26 pm #

    The Hawks have no chance. Who really expected Orlando to win Game 6 on the road? The Hawks won a series of two “not ready for prime time teams”, I think the Bulls will feast on them.

    That being said, the Hawks did avenge their playoff sweep at the hands of the Magic last year. They became the 9th team in the last 30 years win a series against the team who swept them in the playoffs the previous season.

    http://theresastatforthat.blogspot.com/2011/04/sweep-revenge-how-teams-bounce-back.html

  13. Dennis- April 30, 2011 at 7:30 am #

    Write us off… Atl is ok… 4 seasons in the playoffs… last 3 season 2nd Rd.. We have no fans but GA.. D Rose don’t get off it will be a long series for Bull fans. Crawford, Johnson, Horford, Smith write us off but its no accident we are here year in and year out. Memphis showed what can happen once a team feel they can!

  14. hellajax@gmail.com'
    BULL4EVER April 30, 2011 at 6:38 pm #

    Yo clinicklysick man that name totally suits you best, especially for criticizing totally truthful and straightforward remarks i make about every NBA team, whether positive or negative.So what if I’m repeating myself i make zero sense to you because I’m posting totally straightforward and truthful remarks about every NBA team even if they are totally negative, so what????negativity has always been and will remain negative no matter what because the truth has always been totally painful and will remain totally painful and the truth is immortal, man nuff said.GO BULLS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  15. bob.edwards47@yahoo.com'
    BoppinBob April 30, 2011 at 7:35 pm #

    I for one agree with clinicklysick that “bull4ever” is iritating and a distraction from reasonable comment about the Bulls and their opponents. The Bulls should be very relieved to have gotten past the Pacers in 5 games. The Bulls played reasonably good defense, but the offense was definitely struggling in the first four games. The Pacers set out to disrupt DRose and for the most part succeeded in the first 4 games. He shot horribly but fortunately drew enough fouls to score points. DoAll Deng provided solid play in the first four games and IMO was the MVP of the series.

    I do not know why everyone is surprized by Boozers poor play in the playoffs, that is his rep. If Boozer is hurt or ineffective in his first rotation against the Hawks then I would put Thomas in at center and move Noah to PF. That way Taj can still be a force with the second team, which needs to play more. The Bulls depth has been their biggest advantage all season, but Thibs seems to be falling into the shorter rotation trap that most “experts” reccomend. It really helped the Bulls in the first 4 games against the Pacers.

  16. IrishGush May 1, 2011 at 7:06 pm #

    Isn’t the fact that the Magic shot threes well below their season average partly attributable to the Hawks’ defensive strategy? Most teams double or rotate more against Howard, leaving Orlando’s three point shooters open. The Hawks single-covered Howard, stayed home on the shooters, and voila, the Magic shoot horribly.

  17. Handkuft@yahoo.com'
    GotNext May 1, 2011 at 8:29 pm #

    Dennis, I’m not writing the Hawks off, I don’t think anyone is. But even you have to admit that pretty much everyone has Chicago winning this series. Bulls in 6.

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