Chicago Bulls vs Atlanta Hawks 7pm on CSN

Chicago Bulls vs Atlanta Hawks 7pm on CSN

Does the Hawks road win against the Miami Heat make them seem a bit more fearsome coming into the UC tonight? It was a somewhat rare win for Atlanta against an elite team as they usually pile up their record against the league's doormats.

Atlanta's offense has been steamrolling opponents, they have five players with a PER over 20 (ironically Joe Johnson and Josh Smith aren't on that list, but Tracy McGrady whom the Bulls could have had at the minimum is), and their top shot takers are largely shooting over 60% TS%. That's an unbelievable offensive start.

I'm sure some fans will have misgivings about not picking up Tracy McGrady while others will still say they don't want him. I'll say this, it's interesting to see how well McGrady is fitting into the Hawks given that they're a team that didn't really need another ball handler. I'd have to think he'd fit even better here where we DO need another ball handler.

They now roll into Chicago on the back of an emotional win against Miami to face what's likely the league's best defense [though Bulls ranked 8th right now in DRTG].

A game which appeared early on as a blip on the radar now appears like a stiff challenge, especially as the Bulls will play without C.J. Watson and possibly Richard Hamilton.

All that said, Bulls win. Outside of their game against Miami, Atlanta has piled up their stats against New Jersey (twice) and Washington while losing handily to the Houston Rockets. They're a good team and have always been a good team, but their win against Miami was a fluke, and they're not going to get two flukes in a row.

Keys to the game

Fundamental defense

Atlanta is one of those teams that scores from all over the floor. For almost the entire game, all five players on the court are threats to score. They don't have a single dominant scoring strength to take away, so the Bulls need to limit their double teams, make the correct rotations, and maintain their defensive responsibilities.

They haven't turned the ball over much and are forcing teams to work hard on both ends of the court. The Bulls will need to stay disciplined and focused defensively to turn back their offense. I look for Derrick Rose to lead the charge defensively against the explosive Jeff Teague whom I feel is the key to their offense.

Continue the offensive flow

The Bulls have piled on the points the past couple of games through tremendous offensive flow. They've had precision passing, quality shooting, and lots of attempts in the lane to generate foul shots. Chicago merely needs to keep doing what they've been doing on offense.

Atlanta isn't turning the ball over much, but the Bulls have done a great job in initiating a fast break attack off of missed shots rather than just off of turnovers, I look for them to continue that trend.

Beat them up inside

The Hawks aren't playing a traditional center very many minutes, so Chicago will need to beat them up inside. This doesn't mean going to the low post with Joakim Noah against Al Horford over and over, but it does mean that they should attack the offensive glass hard and see if the Hawks can really defend it well with an undersized lineup.

Derrick Rose time

Too bad Derrick Rose doesn't have twitter, because I'm pretty sure if someone tweeted him that Jeff Teague was the best PG in the NBA, that he'd go out and score 50 with 20 assists just to show us how wrong that is.

The Bulls are always looking to lessen the burden on Rose, but here it is, against the good teams the Bulls need big performances out of Rose to win just like the Lakers need big ones from Kobe Bryant and the Heat need them from Wade/James. The Hawks are a very strong team, and the Bulls might need a special performance out of Rose to win tonight.

Final thoughts

I'm fairly hyped for this game now, we probably won't think much of the Hawks by season's end, but for now they look pretty dangerous which gives this a big game feel to it. I expect the Bulls to come out and treat it that way and get the victory.

Filed under: Game Threads


Leave a comment
  • The new & improved transition game has been the most pleasant surprise of the young season, hope we can keep it up every game. Do you think it will translate to playoff basketball?

  • I agree with a lot of what you've said, Doug. The biggest key defensively is going to be staying home. The Hawks move the ball around and have been getting scoring from everybody this year. But, similar to the Bulls, they only have one guy that can penetrate consistently - Teague. Unfortunately for the Hawks, Teague is no DRose. So meet him at the rim with some help, allow him get his pts for the most part, but shut down the perimeter and the Bulls should be fine. Smith, Johnson, and McGrady are fine players, but they're not driving around guys anymore.

    Offensively, I think the Bulls are primed for another big game. They've won using the high pick and roll (in LAC) and then won with defense and fast break runouts (vs MEM), really showing they can beat playoff teams playing any style, open court or half. The only thing they really have to worry about is ATL's zone defense. Bulls have the shooters to combat this, but I bet Miami thought they did too, and they were essentially shut down by the zone yesterday. As long as Korver, Deng, and even Brewer are still hitting, and Rose is mildly 'on', we should have enough zone-busters to send ATL packing.

    Looking forward to this one. Tough to call any game a 'statement game' this early on but with no undefeated teams, and ATL having just defeated MIA, a win tonight would put the League on notice. Seems some have forgotten.

  • Doug thanks for the preview/heads up on Hotlantas offensive start. I checked their team stats, and every significant player is bascially shooting .500 or better. If that's not a tough team to beat at least offensively I don't know who is?

    Agreed Derrick's going to have to bring the intensity/star power every game for the Bulls to win nightly/be an elite team no one will dispute that I think.

    Derrick's defensive emergence is also a huge factor for me. Both in the Clips game and against Memphis not only was Derrick slicing through screens, but he was doing the other thing good defensive guards/defenses do; sag down and harass bigs who posess the ball in obvious black hole/manuerving to score situations. Guys/defenses that do add a crucial dimension. It also puts Derrick in a position to get more rebounds.

    I'm looking for Derrick to bring that defensive package again tonight to see this is truly an awakening. If so it's beyond huge, and changes the whole tenor/energy level of the team in my view.

    And Carlos Boozer's offense/game is the other huge factor. In two of the last three games he's looked like the old/career Carlos scoring potently on a high field goal percentage. That continues, and look out if you're playing Chicago.

    Also Joakim/honorable mention as he's rounding back into form though he's not showing signs of a complete reemergence yet.

    And if Rip is limited with C.J. out other then Lucas if he fizzles will Jimmy Butler possibly get some burn at the two? Doug do you think from what you've seen Butler can guard two's? I know Thibs is anti-rook, but he did give J.J. some minutes/a review before the verdict came in as "rotation denied."(ha, ha)

  • Also, off topic, anybody hear about DeMarcus Cousin's continued implosion in Sacramento? Rumors that Boston's interested? I wouldn't touch that guy with a ten foot pole that is if they wanted valuable assets such as a Joakim for him.

    And I wouldn't regret not picking/worry about Miami's drafting of Norris Cole(after that 20 point game against Celts). The guy is a head case/clown from what I saw of him in college. He'll let them down at the worst time/playoffs.

    Bears talk, I know take it to the Bear's site, but I'm simply glad Angelo has been fired. Wonder if the bears would pursue newly released Pollian/Colts? Doubt it. And who else leaves Martz, Lovie? Or if they're safe are Bears hiring non-independent/dynamic Company ho?

  • In reply to RoadWarrior:

    1. I would take a shot at Cousins even we know if it is a headcase issue. I think he is immature because of his age kind of like Zach Randolph, Rasheed Wallace. But, it is a big risk though. Maybe they will take Boozer as a "star" exchange.
    2. About Jerry Angelo, I think Polian is a carbon-copy of Angelo. Failed drafts and failed back-up QB. But, he did build around a elite QB for success.
    3. About Cole, I think it is a classic case of the ESPN media hype on a couple of games.
    4. I would be curious if Thibs uses Butler today. We need Brewer and Butler to put a stop to these smaller/faster PGs with their length and athleticism. I know Rose wants to be on all-defensive team but this will give him a break of not working very hard on defense atleast for some time MJ and Scottie used to do.

  • In reply to RoadWarrior:

    Regarding Norris Cole, are you sure you were watching the right player in college? Although he was never classified as elite, I never heard anyone describe him as as head case or clown.

  • In reply to RichG:

    I watched him in a few games, and I just never saw him look at/respond to teammates when they were trying to engage him on timeouts etc., and also during a game when the opponent was makign a run a teammate was talking to him, and he just gave him an exaggerated salute like was a general. I don't know he did look like sort of a clown to me.

    However, Clown/headcase, if it weren't fo him going to/playing for Miami I admit I wouldn't have used those terms. As I said I thought when I came home from work, and checked the draftboard that the Bulls had taken Cole and Jimmy Butler. I was excited about it. I knew he/Cole had some nice athleticism(20 rebounds in a game), and could score the ball. I don't like unwarrented negativism/attacks, but honestly the venom was meant for Riley/Miami.

    But I do see some potential for problems especially if they rush him along, and in a playoff/pressure cooker setting. No ill will towards him personally if he proves to be an alright guy, but he has joined the Dark Side aka South Biatch.

  • In reply to RoadWarrior:

    Of the Heat's two point guards, Mario Chalmers is the more insecure, and he should be, because Norris Cole is gunning for his spot. Heat rookies rarely play a significant role, and Cole is. That should tell you something about this Heat fan favorite. Cole may never be elite, but he's going to be very good for the Heat.

  • In reply to RoadWarrior:

    I wouldn't want Cousins either. We aren't really at the stage where we want to take a head case who isn't offering considerable immediate returns but is just a project.

    As for the Bears, I'm indifferent to Angelo being fired. I'm not in love with the guy as GM, but if Cutler / Forte don't go down this team wins 11-12 games this year. It's hard for me to say he didn't do a good job given that.

    His first rounders have largely been a train wreck, but his middle round picks have been very solid historically. I don't think he's the best, but I don't think he's in the bottom 3rd of the NFL either.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Jerry was constantly being compared to Ted Thompson (Packer’s GM) and rightfully so. They replaced Brett Favre with Aaron Rodgers! Matt Flynn throws for 400 yards and six touchdowns and Hanie can't even compete in the NFL! Greg Jennings and Donald Driver are amazing! Jerry doesn't even believe in drafting wide receivers in the first round! I could go on and on and on.
    This is a pass happy league. We have Jay Cutler. What gives Jerry? Why trade for Cutler if the best receiver you pick up in free agency is Roy Williams? Why go half way? I’m glad he’s gone.

    Back to the NBA. Speaking of rookies, how about Markieff Morris? I would love him as a Bull. Back-up and subsequent replacement for Boozer. His PER is 22.24. He’s looking good, but I am a Jayhawk homer. Just don’t give him a BB gun, because he’ll shoot old ladies with it.

  • Jerry Angelo is gone!!! If the Bulls win, this day will be perfect!

  • "Too bad Derrick Rose doesn't have twitter, because I'm pretty sure if someone tweeted him that Jeff Teague was the best PG in the NBA, that he'd go out and score 50 with 20 assists just to show us how wrong that is."

    I wish chris paul was on our conference. I hope Deron Williams stays in our conference.

  • Nice analysis Doug. I'm not too worried about this one - Bulls seem to match up pretty well overall with the Hawks, plus they're more disciplined and play harder. Bulls should take this one.

  • I'm excited about this game. The Hawks beating the Heat last night just makes it all the more interesting. I also have A row seats at center court (just behind the courtside folks). First time ever for me to get that close. Does anyone know the pregame schedule? I often show up 30-40 minutes early and see warmups, but I didn't know if stuff happened even earlier than that? What time should I arrive to get maximum exposure to my beloved Bulls?

  • In reply to johnbegone:

    Awesome seats! Enjoy the game.

    I am hopefully loving it live tonight.

  • Is Atlanta a better team this year because of a few things?
    1. Larry Drew is a better coach than Woodson and it was his first year in 2010-11
    2. They do not have Jamal Crawford to take crazy shots which improves their bad shot percentage and it is now just controlling Josh Smith.
    3. Maybe Teague is a good PG who finally gets his time in the reg season to work out his issues and not thrown into a playoff series.
    4. Joe Johnson is more at peace with his contract and doesn't feel the pressure he had last year.
    And finally, they are getting Hinrich back soon fresh for the playoffs to trouble Wade during a series. I can see them being the 3rd seed in the East after the Bulls/Heat

    They did beat Orlando but can they get to another level this year? They are beating teams pretty badly and they do have good athletes.

  • looks like a bad one tonight

  • RIP and Watson don't make that much of a difference. It's the ECF all over again, the Bulls can't score if not for Rose

  • In reply to Reese1:

    exactly, it's obivous !!! Did you the wide-open lay-up boozer missed ? Not to mention Lu Deng and Brewer.

  • 2-20? I would kill for RIP to be playing this game. Worst half of basketball in a long time. Forget about Brewer starting too.

  • In reply to Jmax:

    Are you serious ?Do you really think RIP could change a thing ?? you're funny !!

  • In reply to deewaves:

    He would do a heck of a lot better than Brewer and Korver. Spaz out more dude.

  • This team sucks. Except D-Rose, everybody sucks. This team is joke. Seriously stop kidding by saying they could beat the heat !! It's obvious, if bulls don't trade for a star, there's no hope.


  • The Bulls came into this game ranked #2 in the NBA in Offensive Efficiency.

    They're having a horrible game, no doubt, but at least I get to read all these hilarious comments from people over-reacting.

    Thanks everyone!!

  • You people do realize that the Hawks just beat the Heat last night? It's not like they suck.

  • And with the Bulls playing like crap, it doesn't help that the officiating has been embarassing so far.

  • Rose is 3/10 from the field and 0/2 on 3's with 2 TO, he sucks!!! Let's trade him NOW!!!

  • In reply to Don Ellis:

    You can say that some fans are over reacting but it is what it is, the Bulls can't score when needed even when RIP and Watson are in the game. But you guys keep fooling yourselves about this team. I hate their offense, it stinks, the Hawks aren't having a good game and the Bulls are still having trouble. I see they're trying to make a run tho.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    "The Bulls can't score when needed"?

    I just saw them put up 34 points in the 4th quarter tonight, including 6 points in the final minute. That's exactly when they "needed" to score. And that was WITHOUT Rip and CJ.

    I'd say that puts you at the top of the "over-reacting" list.

  • Will the Bulls score less today than the total number of wins they will have for the season?

  • In games like this one it wouldn't hurt having a player like Arenas who is still a threat from long range...wishful thinking tho.

  • this is exactly what i say everytime... the bulls have no confidence on offense. Any great defensive team, such as the bulls, can generate offense from in front when the defense is dominating and ride that out to a win. The bulls when they are behind and can't totally shut down their opponents tend to lose belief in their offense and then nobody wants to take a shot. It's all fear, and fear comes from knowing you are not that good at offense and you dont know how to snap out of a funk.

  • Thibs needs to get Korver the fuck out of the game. He is a mistake prone player, and tonight he has made one whole shot in well over 25 minutes of floor time, including none in the first half when he played the last 16 minutes, as well as a boatload of missed wide open 3's.

    I would have liked Jimmy Butler playing some with the group in the 4rth quarter. For a second, right at the end of the 3rd I thought that Thibs might have actually grown a pair when he put Butler in, but I guess it was just and end of quarter offense defense switch.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Oh yea, I almost forgot, but the refs totally suck tonight.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    actually the really fucking suck after that call on Asik with Horford clearing out with his left hand on Asiks face.

  • Boozer and Noah on the bench again at the end of a close game...not good

  • In reply to Reese1:

    noah sucks ass. Bulls overpaid ranking

    #1 boozer
    #2 Noah (only because boozer makes more money, not that he is better)

    deng isnt overpaid anymore in my view

  • In reply to ixonflex69:

    I would cut Noah some slack cause I agree with Bigway, Noah should be playing power forward but we got stuck with Boozer

  • In reply to Reese1:

    in this game and overall about Noah playing the 4 IMO

  • In reply to Reese1:

    I still contend that this is Boozers problem not Noah's. Noah should have played power forward in the 4rth alongside Asik. In fact with Johnson playing 2 guard the Bulls could have played Taj, Noah and Asik all together with Deng guarding Johnson.

    IN fact I would have played only 6 guys in the fourth Rose, Deng, Asik, Noah, Taj and Jimmy Bulter as an extra defender on Johnson, But I am not a genius NBA coach like Thibs.

  • In reply to BigWay:


  • In reply to BigWay:

    I said it last year that the Bulls have one too many bigs when everyone is healthy ... Taj and Omer are both too good to be playing 12 minutes a night as backups. Add in that you want Deng to play some 4 depending on match ups and there's a minuter squeeze (well OK not right now because of Boozer sucking and Noah fouling).

    I was using it as justification as to why the Bulls should look to trade Gibson for a SG, but you could just as well use it as justification as to why giving Boozer the amnesty flick this off-season makes sense. Start Gibson at the 4 next to Noah, have Asik play 24+ minutes at center freeing Noah to spend some time at the 4. The Noah/Asik combo looked promising in the brief periods we used it last year. Sign some vet guy to be the backup in case of injury (ie like Kurt Thomas from last year) role and you're set.

    Yeah it doesn't give you a lot of offense up front but anyone watching the Bulls this year will have noticed that we seem to have that problem anyway. Heck, due to Deng playing more at the 4 maybe the offense from that position would even be better than what we have now.

  • i cant believe they got away with this one. that was awful... yet a win is always a good win, screw it

  • In reply to ixonflex69:

    I don't care what they look like doing it, all I care about is winning more games than Miami so the Bulls have home court. Like Doug said, this team is already at the point where they don't have anything to prove during the regular season.

  • Gritty win by the Bulls but I still hate their offense...a win tho.

  • Hey ATL you just got MVP'd...Again!

    Too fast, too strong, too good!

  • This game proves that the Bulls will face the biggest choice of Reinsdorfs post Jordan life next summer.

    Keep Boozer, lose Asik, or Amnesty Boozer with 3 years left to keep Asik.

    I'd amnesty Boozer tomorrow and go with a 3 bigman rotattion of Asik, Noah and Taj. This move would also move Butler into the 10 man rotation, as Deng could play some minutes at the 4.

    Boozer, the big mans Ben Gordon, i.e a phony piece of shit with an 8 figure salary.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    It's almost to the point where getting rid of Boozer for addition by subtraction purposes makes sense. Still I can't really see the Bulls paying Boozer 60 million not to play ... he's here for a while yet IMO.

  • Great last play there by Thibs, not only because it got Deng the easy bucket but because teams have to be shown that the last shot isn't going to Rose 100% of the time.

    Noah is starting to become a concern ... if we're not going to pay the tax (or even only going to pay a small amount) then if you're on a big contract you can't be constantly getting in foul trouble and unable to play.

    Still we're 5-1 with our starting front court averaging 12/8 and 9/7 ... so can't complain too much. Don't see how we can get past Miami unless Boozer & Noah start to play better though.

  • Agreed, the offensive was horrific tonight until the end, but a win is a win. People need to stop over reacting. The way this condensed season is going to go, there will be down nights. Thankfully, they pulled out a win on a down night.

  • That was an amazing comeback.

    The end made it worth watching the first two and a half periods of torture. Just incredible defense for most of the game, and Derrick Rose being Derrick Rose down the stretch.

    Great decision by Thibs to put Noah back in and a great play call to get the game winner as well.

  • Doug,
    This my first post of the season. To watch this kid with the calmest of demeanor put his team on his back was simply amazing. To all you guys who cut your wrists tonight, PUT THE DAMN KNIVES AWAY!!! IT JUST THE 6TH GAME OF THE SEASON!!!
    Also, Luol Deng is turning into an All-Star before our very eyes. Look at his stat line...21 pts, on 7 of 15 shooting, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals and a block. Oh I forgot 44 minutes...

  • In reply to AlgernonHPenn:

    For your first post of the season, you couldn't have possibly have done any better.

    It wasn't laugh out loud funny like some of the posts during the game, but it was 100% accurate.

  • I'm curious to see how far this drops the Bulls Offensive Efficiency Rating- they were the #2 offense in the NBA coming into the game, I'm guessing by tomorrow morning they're down to 5th or 6th.

    It'll certainly help the defensive ratings, though.

  • AWESOME comeback!!!

    Nuff said.

  • I guess the Hawks athleticism on defense was throwing the Bulls offense of its timing. But, they got tired by the 4th quarter and it helped the Bulls to find their rhythm.
    It was the big three who were responsible for the comeback win:

    Asik, Rose and Deng.

Leave a comment