Blog Entry

Hawks-Bulls Preview: Wings will be clipped

Posted on: May 2, 2011 11:40 am
Edited on: May 2, 2011 1:55 pm
Posted by Royce Young

I. Intro:  No. 5 seed Atlanta Hawks (44-38) vs. No. 1 seed Chicago Bulls (62-20)

It's not really the matchup we all anticipated, but that doesn't change anything. So it's not Dwight Howard versus the Bulls frontcourt, but the Hawks present Chicago an interesting matchup. Really, I get the feeling this series could surprise a bit and be really good.

A challenge for the Hawks though will be to forget about the Orlando series and re-focus here. Because that was a big win for them. They were humilated last year and obviously played with an edge. They need that same kind of motivation and edge to hold down Derrick Rose and the Bulls.

II. What Happened:  A look at the season series

The Bulls took the season series 2-1 over the Hawks with one close loss and two blowout wins. The Hawks scored 14 fewer points a game against the Bulls, were crushed on the glass, shot low percentages and couldn't stop the Bulls. The win the Hawks picked up came because they were able to slow the Bulls down and beat them in an ugly, grind-it-out game.

III. Secret of the Series: Transition

The Bulls play very good defense. The Hawks halfcourt offense can sometimes be bad. Solution? Run.

The Hawks have a bunch of talent and athleticism, especially in their bigs, that can get out in the open floor and run against the Bulls. Josh Smith is terrific in transition. Al Horford runs well. Players like Joe Johnson and Jamal Crawford can find secondary opportunities off of fast breaks. Running is a big thing for the Hawks to try and do because it's hard to see them beating the Bulls four times using halfcourt offense.

The Bulls though are very good at controlling pace and keeping teams from running. Obviously Tom Thibodeau knows the Hawks want to run as much as possible and that will be a focus.

IV. The Line-Item Veto:  Who wins each match-up?

PG: The Bulls obviously had the edge in this department before Kirk Hinrich's injury, but now it's pretty wide. Jeff Teague will start for the Hawks in Game 1 and might be handling duties the entire series. Either way, the Bulls have a giant edge at point guard. Hinrich is a pesky on-ball defender and Rose would've had to work. His life just got easier. Huge advantage, Bulls. 

SG: This is kind of the opposite of the point guard matchup. Joe Johnson is the main offensive option for Atlanta and Keith Bogans' job is to lock him down. But for Chicago, not only is Bogans healthy, but he's totally capable of limiting Johnson. The Hawks have an edge, but it's not wide. Advantage, Hawks.

SF: Assuming the Hawks stick with the same starting five used against Orlando, Josh Smith will be here against Luol Deng. Obviously Smith has a big size advantage, but Deng is super long and will take Smith out on the perimeter. A lot will come down to if Smith does the same or uses his head and goes inside on Deng. Too close to call for me, so this is a push. 

PF: Carlos Boozer will try to give it a go in Game 1 and will face off in the series against Al Horford. This will be a terrific head-to-head with two big bodies that score well in the post. Definitely a good one to watch. Horford is more consistent and is playing better, so Atlanta has the edge here. Advantage, Hawks. 

C: Again, this will be Jason Collison versus Joakim Noah is things stay the same for Atlanta. If Larry Drew changes things up, he'll have Horford against his old Florida buddy and Marvin Williams at small forard with Smith at power forward. Under the assumption though Collins starts here, Noah has the edge. He played like the animal he is against Indiana and his athleticism could give Collins trouble on the glass. Advantage, Bulls. 

Bench: This is where the Hawks make their move. Jamal Crawford has been an absolute weapon off the bench for Atlanta and even Marvin Williams and Zaza Pachulia chipped in big time against Orlando. The Bulls bench lacked against Indiana other than Kyle Korver. Chicago doesn't look for offense as much as Atlanta does off the bench, but still, the Hawks should win this area easily every game. Advantage, Hawks. 

Coach: Larry Drew did a nice job in Round 1. Tom Thibodeau has emerged as a pretty incredible strategist and game coach. This feels like series that will be more just about matchups than anything else and Drew has the opportunities to use his team's versatility to move things around. But Thibodeau is the superior here. Advantage, Bulls. 

V. Conclusion

The Hawks can win this series. I'm convinced. They have the athletes, the scorers and the confidence to hang right in with the Bulls. Especially after the shaky play Chicago showed in the opening round. The Bulls are the better team, no doubt. They have a better system, won the season series handily and have Derrick Rose. But the Hawks have some talent. Don't overlook them.

That said, it's hard to picture it actually happening. The Bulls are just going to swallow the Hawks in the halfcourt. Atlanta averaged just 80 points per game against the Bulls in the regular season and had one of the worst offenses in the league. Like I said, transition is key, but the Bulls aren't dumb. They know that. The Hawks have the talent to steal one here or there, but the Bulls take this in six.

Since: Jan 8, 2011
Posted on: May 2, 2011 7:34 pm

Hawks-Bulls Preview: Wings will be clipped

The Hawks are going to go small in this series, just like they did in the majority of the games versus Chicago this year.  Horford will be playing the center position and matching up against Noah.  Josh Smith will match up against Boozer (if he plays), and Marvin Williams will match up against Luol Deng.

Since: Oct 29, 2010
Posted on: May 2, 2011 6:24 pm

Hawks-Bulls Preview: Wings will be clipped

The thing that made the Bulls winners this year is defense.What's different this year than last? Thibodeau brought a game plan that focussed on defense. It doesn't hurt to have Rose who seems to be able to score at will and guys who can and must dominate the boards. With a great defense the Bulls control the tempo so others have to play their brand of ball and the Bulls are better at it. If Boozer is healthy, the Bulls will have an advantage inside and out.

Since: May 2, 2011
Posted on: May 2, 2011 4:15 pm

Hawks-Bulls Preview: Wings will be clipped

Every team is dangerous this time of year. That being said the Bulls and playing horrible ball littered with turn overs and missed shots at the rim. If they clean up the mistakes, crash the glass and defend, they win easily against the Hawks.

Since: Jan 24, 2007
Posted on: May 2, 2011 3:24 pm

Hawks-Bulls Preview: Wings will be clipped

That because you have no clue what you are talking about.  Bulls have a tenacious d, especially in critical times of the game, and D-Rose is a closer.  Who is going to make the big shot for the Hawks, Joe Johnson?  Please...Hawks will keep a couple of games close but Bulls win in 5 maybe 6.  Even if we didn't win a road game in the series, Allanta will not take steal one in our house.  Lets just move on to the Eastern Conference semi's already.  Bring on Miami or better yet the Celtics. 

Since: Aug 25, 2009
Posted on: May 2, 2011 3:18 pm

Hawks-Bulls Preview: Wings will be clipped

I'm not a fan of either team but to say Luol is a wild card is not true. He has been very consistent througout the season and the playoffs. Finishing off a team in 5 games is not barely beating in my opinion. If it went to seven games then that's a different story. The close games they played just goes to show that the Bulls can close out a tight game. The game that they lost which looked like a blow out with 3 minutes left actually was close and the Bulls almost pulled off the win! I don't think the Hawks have anyone that can close out a game Rose if it gets tight! This series won't go 7 games, Bulls in 6 or less.

Since: Dec 11, 2006
Posted on: May 2, 2011 2:55 pm

Hawks-Bulls Preview: Wings will be clipped

Everyone seems to be picking the Bulls in this series with the Hawks.  I think that's happening for two basic reasons.  Derrick Rose and the Bulls' number one seed in these playoffs.  Yea, Rose is that good, but the seeding is meaningless.  Whoever really believes Chicago is the best team in the playoffs, please get in touch with me.  I have a bridge I'd like to sell...  The Bulls have a clear advantage at point guard, but that is it.  They cannot match up with Al Horford, Joe Johnson, Josh Smith, and Jamal Crawford.  That's an impressive line up.  Carlos Boozer is banged up and really has yet to show up in the playoffs.  Luol Deng and Joakim Noah are absolutely wild cards and very unpredictable.  And the Hawks have the bench advantage.  In a seven game series, I like the depth and talent, across the board, for the Atlanta Hawks.  Chicago's first series with the Pacers was all Rose, why will that change now?  And they just barely won that series.  Atlanta is a much better team than Indiana.  I think Atlanta is the better, more talented team in this series, and I'll take the Hawks in seven in this series with the Bulls.

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