Atlanta seals the deal, set to play Bulls in round two

Atlanta seals the deal, set to play Bulls in round two

If I had to create a confidence pool on the first round, it would have gone something like this:
 
Bulls 8, Lakers 7, Heat 6, Magic 5, Thunder 4, Spurs 3, Celtics 2, Blazers 1

What does this prove?   First, that I don't have a career as a vegas odds maker, and also that predicting the playoffs is never as easy as you think when making the predictions.  

I figured realistically, the only series really in doubt were Boston/NY and Dallas/Blazers.  As it turns out, the Hawks pulled a huge upset, and the Grizzlies are in line to do the same thing. 

The playoffs always surprise us, and this year surprises are good for the Bulls

I was more scared of Orlando than Boston, but you know who doesn't scare me more than Boston?   Atlanta.   In my opinion, Atlanta's the worst team to make it to the second round, and that's true regardless of whether the Spurs or Grizzlies advance.

What can the Hawks do to the Bulls?1

Al Horford can give them trouble.  He's a guy who can match up well against either Noah or Boozer on both sides of the court.  The Hawks should look to get him as involved as possible, as he's the player who probably best has a matchup advantage while on offense.

They can occasionally shoot well.   Joe Johnson's a solid shooter, Jamal Crawford and Kirk Hinrich are streaky.   If the Hawks are shooting lots of threes though, the Bulls probably end up winning games, because they're more likely to shoot themselves out of games than shoot themselves into them.

They have a pretty solid defense, and assuming they go back to playing small with Horford at center against the Bulls, they can do better than most teams defensively on a PG/PF switch with Josh Smith out there.

What can the Bulls do to the Hawks?

The Hawks likely have no answer for Derrick Rose.  Kirk Hinrich's likely their best perimeter defender, but he's notoriously bad on PGs with great first step and plays better against bigger guys who don't have an extreme speed advantage on him.

Luol Deng, Ronnie Brewer, and Keith Bogans are all solid defenders to throw at Joe Johnson, their best offensive player, so the Bulls should do a solid job defensively on Atlanta as they can cover up their most dynamic offensive player with a variety of people using primarily single coverage.

Deng matches up really well against Marvin Williams assuming the Hawks go back to him at SF rather than using Jason Collins at center (likely the case against Chicago), so I expect Deng to have a big series as well.

Early series prediction

Bulls in five.

It wouldn't surprise me if it went six, but if so, it will be one of those series that's likely not a real competitive six.   I don't anticipate ever feeling like the Hawks can win this thing.

I'm shocked the Hawks upset the Magic, but on top of that, I don't get the feeling that the Hawks just played outstanding as much as the Magic simply couldn't get anything done in the playoffs.  The Hawks averaged 87.4 points per game in the playoffs so far, and 83.5 in the past four games after a hot game one.

Quite simply, the Bulls defense should contain these guys rather easily, and the Bulls offense, while not performing at amazing levels, should still be able to score at a reasonable clip.

Figure the shots fall, the refs miss some calls, the Bulls lay an egg, or something for 1-2 games, but teh Bulls should be pretty heavy favorites in each game.  

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  • Bulls in 5, 4 if Hinrich can't play due to the injury he picked up at the end of the game.

    I disagree Hinrich will struggle with Rose, Rose didn't do great against him in their matchups this year. Nobody is quick enough to stay with Rose but Hinrich at least knows his game better than anyone. I think Hinrich will guard Rose about as well as anyone can, and will probably play him pretty physically, depending on how much the refs let him get away with of course.

    But I think Crawford is the guy on the Hawks who could win them a game or two. He's been great so far this playoffs, and is playing for a contract.

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    Rose crushed him in the last match up.

  • In reply to dldjr:

    I know a lot of Bulls fans still have a lot admiration for Hinrich but let's not fall head over heals for him like always. Yeah he played 2 years with Rose but that wasn't the MVP Rose. Derrick will have his way with him, so sorry to all of the Hinrich fans to disappoint all of you. I agree that this series should go 5 maybe 6 games with the Bulls advancing to the ECF, and hopefully someone will help Boozer with his confidence, his so called popped toe turf injury , and his moving his feet when on defense. If Thibs wants to continue to build the Bulls based on defense, I can't see how Boozer is suppose to stay with the Bulls.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    Nobody expects Hinrich to outplay Rose, but Hinrich is an above average defender. He's likely to be the toughest one on one defender Rose gets in the playoffs (unless the Thunder come out of the West). I mean Paul George, Bibby/Chalmers and Fisher/Blake are guys Rose should be expected to dominate. Hinrich will at least make life difficult for him.

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    I see you are a big Hinrich supporter, I doubt very seriously that he will make as you say life difficult for the MVP of the league.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    If I'm a big Hinrich supporter for saying he's better than some pretty crappy defenders then whatever.

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    Exactly... Hinrich guarding Rose is a whatever matchup for Rose. A bad matchup for Hinrich tho... Sorry captain KLANK!!!

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    BTW, Does anybody else think that Bogans is a big key in this series on defense. We know about Korver's defense and Brewer is more of a stealing, passing lanes type of defender than a physical one. Bogans can put Joe Johnson and Jamal Crawford out of their rhythm with his physical play..

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    I doubt Bogans will lineup against Crawford much, since Crawford comes off the bench and Bogans will be gone.

    Clearly Brewer needs to get his stuff together though.

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    Now that Crawford had a nice series shooting/scoring, his head is going to be more inflated than usual. He is not going to stop shooting the rock to the benefit of the bulls.

    Hinrich looked to severly injure his hammie. I think Rose will have an easier time against him than Collison plus Indiana's good help D. Hinrich does struggle with small/quick gaurds. And. from the matchups I've seen between Hinrish and Rose, I have seen Rose dominate and get to the bucket whenever he wanted to.

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    Crown, didn't know how else to reach ya bud-wanted you to check out today's blog. Thanks man!

    http://www.chicagonow.com/blogs/offhanded-dribble/2011/04/decoding-the-rhetoric--what-the-gop-would-like-to-say.html#ixzz1Kvh1hCIP

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    Bogans will be a key to the next series, not letting Wade light him up like a Christmas tree.

    Crawford is the kind of guy who has hurt the Bulls this year, a steaky shooter/scorer. However, he is not the kind of guy who can shoot to victory for a game or maybe even 2, but not an entire series.

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    Long-time Hinrich fan here. I'm very happy for Kirk that he's exclusively a PG (it's what he's best at) and playing on a decent team. I did a little research and Hawks' fans appreciate what he brings to the table.

    Hinrich will do everything he possibly can to slow down Rose, but it's a decidedly bad match-up for him. Particularly as it applies to Hinrich, Rose is simply too big, too fast, too strong, too good.

    Hinrich's going to be in foul trouble throughout the series. When he's on the bench, it'll really get ugly for Atlanta.

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    Read this over on Espn.com

    It's tough," Crawford said. "Kirk is the head of our defense. He's the guy who makes stuff happen from the start. I just hope he's healthy enough to get out there. He knows their system. He knows their players as well as anybody. He can definitely give us some insight. We'll definitely pick his brain during timeouts and stuff."

    Is this even true how much of our system/players are the same since Kirk left??

  • In reply to UtahBullsFan:

    Maybe he thinks they are playing the Clippers, or that Kirk played in Boston last year = )

    Probably the only info Kirk could give is that Rose abused him in practice last year, just my assumption.

  • In reply to UtahBullsFan:

    Surprised nobody has mentioned it here: Rose wins the MVP according to CJ Watson's twitter.

    http://twitter.com/#!/quietstorm_32/status/64094039150039041

  • In reply to dldjr:

    Well that settles it, Loul Deng will shoot 67% and Bogans 100% for the series since the last match the teams played is all we need to consider.

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    7 seasons on the team and I still can't reliably put the U before the O when I type Deng's first name. Arg.

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    I'm confused. You seem to be using the Rose's few games against Hinrich as an example of while he'll struggle yet pointing to a small sample size as inadequate at the same time.

    Just watching Hinrich as a Bull for so many years, he constantly struggled with quicker guards. His best defense came against bigger/slower players.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Well the 5 games against Rose is all the sample we have, it seems silly to use only one game instead of all 5 is all I'm saying.

    He seems to do well against Rose from what we've seen. "Quicker guards" is a category not an individual player, it doesn't take into account that maybe Hinrich can make up for his lack of quickness with his knowledge of Rose's game to anticipate what he's going to do.

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    I don't believe in the sample much because for the most part, the Bulls throttled all of these teams.

    Even in the one loss to Atlanta, the Bulls spent most of the game throttling Atlanta before completely collapsing.

    Rose seems to play better when there is more urgency. There's never been a time watching Rose go up against Hinrich where I thought Hinrich could really bother Rose.

    I think the Pacers did a much better job than the HAwks will be able to do.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    IMO Rose is too fast for everyone, he's going to just blow by people a few times a game and you just hope the help shows up. What the defender can do is pressure the jump shots he takes and I think a guy like Hinrich (if he was healthy) would be able to do that. Hinrich is also the sort of guy who will niggle you, try to get away with grabbing you and so on when the refs aren't looking (and sometimes when they are, hence his high foul rate we always hated).

    As for playing better with more urgency: the playofs don't qualify as urgent? Despite patches where he was dominant Rose played worse overall in the Indiana series than in the regular season I'd say, largely because he's decided that there should be no three he doesn't like.

    But since it looks like Kirk either wont play or he'll play but be hobbled I think the Bulls in 4 now.

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    I picked the magic but I think they were overrated. That being said I'm glad we got the hawks ;)

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    Rose killed Kirk in two of the three match-ups. Rose had a bad shooting night the first match-up. The second match-up saw Rose go to the line 15 times and Kirk stayed in foul trouble. The third match-up was an epic beat down and Kirk looked lost. That game was over after the first quarter.

    Two of those three games were in the A.T.L. Home court for the Bulls, combined with a hamstring injury to Kirk, plus the fact that they're still the Hawks..... Bulls in 5.

  • In reply to kbar17:

    I think the Bulls will win anyway even if Rose plays below his season averages because the Bulls will still bring defense and rebounding and Atlanta aren't any better than the Pacers anyway. I just disagree Rose should be expected to destroy Hinrich.

    Rose played Hinrich 5 times this year. Remember Hinrich was on the Wizards to start the season. He went

    8/20
    9/21
    5/21
    9/24
    11/20

    Overall that's sub-40% shooting against Hinrich. I think the history is in Hinrich's favour that he'll do a decent job on Rose.

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    And even the good shooting game involved Rose going 6/8 on threes ... I'd say given what we've seen from Rose letting him have the three is good defense even if he'll occasionally hit a bunch.

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    Factoring in Hinrich's hamstring and him coming off a calf injury I doubt Kirk has much of a chance.

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    Let the Dwight Howard sweepstakes begin!
    Orlando lost in embarrassing fashion so he's likely leaving Orlando.

    Should the Bulls pursue Howard? Would they want to give up Noah for him?

    Like Carmelo, Bosh and LeBron before him, Dwight Howard will determine his new team. The Magic will have little power over Howard barring a significant change in the CBA.

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    Let the Dwight Howard sweepstakes begin!
    Orlando lost in embarrassing fashion so he's likely leaving Orlando.

    Should the Bulls pursue Howard? Would they want to give up Noah for him?

    Like Carmelo, Bosh and LeBron before him, Dwight Howard will determine which team he wants to go to.
    The Magic will have little power over Howard barring a significant change in the CBA.

  • In reply to Edward:

    Of course the Bulls trade Noah for him if he's available and wants to come here. However, who knows if that's the case.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Besides the Lakers offering Bynum, the big question is does Howard want to play in chicago. If he is determined to play with Rose, and there is talk that they have gotten to know each other well, then we have a shot.

    However, Howard has already stated his preference for warm weather, so that could be the deciding factor.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Yes, the decision is Howard

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Howard also stated that he wanted to be indisputably the man wherever he signs which may rule out Chicago and certainly would rule out Miami.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    I don't believe that(I am not disputing your comment about him making it). He might have said that when the Magic were on a high but after not being able to win a championship where he is indisputably the man with different guys supporting him, he might change his mind like a LeBron did. Repeated failures will make them lose their ego.

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    I Agree.
    Scottie Pippen stated that Howard will never win until he pairs with a superstar.
    http://blogs.orlandosentinel.com/en_fuego/2010/03/is-pippen-right-about-howards-inability-to-dominate.html

    If Howard does want to stay "The Man" he can stay in Orlando and he will be a non-factor in the playoffs. The new CBA may create a larger financial penalty for changing teams.

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    I think this just proves that the East wasn't quite as deep as we thought; Atlanta isn't an excellent team, it's more that Orlando isn't as good as we thought. If either of these two were in the West, they'd probably be borderline playoff teams instead of instead of 4th and 5th seeds.

    I do think Howard will be more interested in moving after this. The Magic's management has shown they are willing to make dramatic moves, but none of them have been the right moves at the right time. It's just not panning out and I don't think it looks like it will get much better. If Dwight's goal includes being a real contender, he should leave. We'll trade Boozer straight up! :)

  • In reply to ironsam:

    If the Magic losing proves the East isn't as deep as we thought, what would San Antonio lose prove?

    When the season started I thought the only teams with a real shot at a title were L.A. and Miami. After the regular season, I added Chicago to that list. After round one, I'll add OKC.

    Still, the East and West are both two team conferences IMO.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Will the Celtics steal one of the first two games in Miami?
    Boston/Miami will be one of the most interesting series in the playoffs.

    Completely agree with OKC. After the Perkins trade they have emerged as a serious contender. A Lakers/OKC series would also be very interesting - as it was last year.

  • In reply to Edward:

    I don't think Boston/Miami will be interesting at all. I think we want it to be interesting, because we want Miami to lose.

    However, ultimately, it won't be interesting, because Boston isn't nearly as good as Miami.

    I agree that OKC/Lakers is the only exciting thing left in the West.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    I will go on record that I think Boston will go at least 6 games with Miami and I give them a very good chance of winning the series.

  • In reply to UnstopaBull:

    I really can't see it, the Celtics looked crap against the Knicks until the Knicks got beat up injury wise and being so thin even when healthy kind of gave up. The only way they take the series is an injury to one of Wade/James/Bosh.

    If I had to pick an upset (given the Thunder must now be favourites against whoever they play) I'd pick the Mavs over the Lakers. Don't think it's likely, but the Lakers look the shakiest of the teams right now.

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    I think the 2nd round is the chalk.

    Miami, Chicago, LA, OKC. So hard to pick an upset against those teams IMO.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    in a confidence pool I'd go
    1-Chicago
    2-OKC
    big gap here
    3-Miami
    4-Dallas (Dirk owns Gasol)

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    I'm guessing that Thibs will put Boozer on Jason Collins. Hopefully Boozer won't get embarrassed again.

  • In reply to joeacook3:

    I don't think the Hawks will start Jason Collins against us. They seem to only start him against bigger teams and didn't start him against us during the season.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Agree. No reason to start Collins...he's basically "6 fouls walking." No need for this against the Bulls who don't have a scoring center.

  • In reply to joeacook3:

    HINRICH INJURY:

    http://twitter.com/#!/HawksPRGuy/status/63797082733023232

    * Hamstring strain.

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    Have to say, your boy Sam Young looks like a player in Memphis.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    but he is still a small forward, not a shooting guard.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    I agree with that. I don't think the Griz wanted to trade him or that we could haven't him, but I'll give Mr H. some credit.

    He liked Nick Young and Sam YOung and both busted out and dramatically increased their value this season even if they are still flawed in some ways.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    He sure does...

  • In reply to joeacook3:

    Prediction. Josh Smith will line-up against Boozer and will look like an all-star. The Boozer apologists will again say it was just a bad match-up (like Hansbrough).

  • In reply to hgarbell:

    There's Boozer apologists left?

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    K.C. JOhnson

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Not a Boozer apologist, but Boozer won't completely suck forever. He'll half-suck (defensive half) forever, but not completely suck.

    At some point, he will return to being an effective scorer.

  • In reply to Nossem:

    Given Boozer's age and athleticism, it wouldn't surprise me if he has a significant dip in offense fairly soon in his career, that said, I think this is likely either a slump or injury thing.

    I don't think he'll be this bad for the next four years + playoffs this year, but two years from now it wouldn't shock me if he doesn't fade gracefully.

  • In reply to hgarbell:

    Prediction: Josh Smith will line up against Boozer and despite Boozer not being able to stay with him Josh Smith will jack bad jump shots because he is Josh Smith.

  • In reply to hgarbell:

    and I just saw a yahoo article that Kirk is likely to miss the entire series with a SIGNIFICANT strain

    http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/news;_ylt=AhNoKGbJD9wUoSi3zvbGw5u8vLYF?slug=ap-hawksadvance

  • In reply to UnstopaBull:

    They might go 6 games, but there are 6 game series that are close, and 6 game series that are not close.

    I doubt there will come a point where I feel Boston can legitimately win the series.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    I predict you will feel that way at some point.

  • In reply to UnstopaBull:

    I agree with that, and I think it goes 7

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    I don't think Miami is as dominant as some like to believe they are. Miami has character and teamwork issues that arise when things aren't going their way.

    I think Boston will represent themselves well. And they got the biggest rest in the playoffs which is what they need.

  • In reply to Edward:

    We need to see if Boston has flipped that switch for the playoffs..If they have, they have a great chance. Miami also might take it up another level as I doubt they took Philadelphia so seriously.
    The rest is good for the 1st game...but what after that?
    I think if only the O'Neals play well, Boston has a chance. LeBron and Wade are more focussed and they know if they get past the Celtics(a mental hurdle), that they have an easier path to their championship. And they are not mentally fatigued right now.

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    they look like they flipped it, just like last year, of course we won't know if it was just New York or not, until they start the Miami series on Sunday.

    Can't wait!

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    I think it was just New York. They racked up the points in the last couple of games by Allen and Pierce getting WIDE open jump shots. I doubt LeBron and Wade leave them so open.

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    I think their reality lies somewhere b/t both perceptions, and I think that is good enough to give Miami a series

  • In reply to Edward:

    +1

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Really hope you are wrong about this, Doug. Having to go two weeks watching those three clowns play would be complete and total torture!

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Disagree.

    The Heat has yet to prove that they can close out in tight games against very good teams. These games will be tight and Boston's very good. If for no other reason than this, it should be interesting.

  • In reply to Nossem:

    The Heat/Celtics are certainly an interesting debate. I know many people still believe in Boston, so I can't dismiss the view. I just think the late game struggles are more fluky than indicative of future performance in this case.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    I don't think their failures in close games are fluky, I believe it has more to do with their cohession, mental toughness, willingness to sacrifice,and lack of heart

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    I Agree.
    Miami has character and teamwork issues that arise when things aren't going their way. I think the Celtics can get in Miami's heads.

    Many wrote off the Celtics last year as well. At some point they will be too old to compete, but for now its all speculation. Just like proclaiming Miami championship-quality is speculation.

    It will be an interesting, hard-fought series, imo.

  • In reply to ironsam:

    Should be a fun series! Atlanta does have a good amount of athletism! Collins did good on Howard at center moving Al down to his his natural PF position, but against the Bulls he should move back up to Center with his old college buddy Noah, then Josh Smith to battle Boozer, Deng will be big for us at SF matchup!

    I hope Boozer turns it around as Smith is athletic but not the near 7 footer PF that he has trouble with mostly.

    Capt Kirk knows Derrick well and I think he will play him the best as anyone has, but Derrick has that matrix gear that nobody on earth can stop 1 on 1 let alone even if the whole team guards him!

    GO BULLS!!!!

  • In reply to ironsam:

    The only thing we can worry about in the 1st game is the Bulls being rusty after a long break and not having any rhythm. But, to think the other way...the Hawks also have a 3 day break and not a 1 day break like they would had if for a 7th game.
    We always think it is easy but we have to see if there is something Larry Drew does for Rose. He seems to be smart on how he handled Howard although the Magic team in general has fallen off the cliff. Does he play a lot of zone in the first game(assuming the Bulls are rusty in their shots)?

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    The Bulls have two more days off than the Hawks, so I doubt it makes too much of a difference, but I agree. The Bulls can come out inexplicably flat at times, and if they do so, they could be in trouble in those games.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    The other thing I would be worried is the complacency. Are the Bulls kind of feeling relived that they don't have to face Howard? I know they will be focussed and all that but it is human nature to feel a little happy not to see Howard and game-plan for him.
    The good thing though is the Bulls can win easily on the road in this series if they need to do it.

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    Agree. Last game against Orlando w/o Howard the Bulls were very complacent. Were lucky to come out with a win. Ryan Anderson romped and stomped our big guys.

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    they could be, but Noah certaintly won't feel complacent after playing at such a high level the last 3 games, and going against Horford. Boozer won't feel so complacent, you can bet your life. Deng will do his best to shut Joe Johnson down. Not too worried about it with Rose, or any of the bench mob...

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    then again, they have much experience in coming out flat & battling back, so its not much different. Don't think it will factor in at all.

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    Before we move on, here is a great shot of Rose blocking Hibbert.
    http://blogs.bulls.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/rose_110427.jpg

    By the way can we just trade Boozer for Carl Landry, even though he is an unrestricted free agent.

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    Kirky Poo wears number 6. Does that mean that he's only half the player that he was when he played on the Bulls (and wore number 12)?
    Welcome back to Kirk and Jamal

  • In reply to DontLetsStart:

    I agree. crawford is the only player that's been decent. However, i don't think that either, crawford nor johnson will be effective against the bulls.

    Traditionally JJ has layed an egg in the playoffs. I imagine his abysmall 3pt shooting percentage should continue against the bulls.

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