Bulls at Hawks 6:30 on CSN - Lack of back to back loss streak on the line

Bulls at Hawks 6:30 on CSN - Lack of back to back loss streak on the line

The Chicago Bulls head into Atlanta off of a loss and will bring their streak of "no consecutive losses" with them. They're the only team in the NBA that hasn't dropped two games in a row at some point. Tonight will be a big test in keeping that streak alive, and quite frankly, I'm not that optimistic.

The Bulls have played badly for three straight games. They managed to win two of the three, but they haven't been able to clamp down on the defensive end in some time. Chicago really misses Rose as a defensive presence as he gives them more size and athleticism on the perimeter and can disrupt the other team far more than Watson and Lucas do.

They also miss his defensive presence because with Rose in the game there are more shots at the rim, fewer long rebounds, fewer deep turnovers, and less easy baskets for the opposition. Plus Rose tends to get back on defense in these situations to cause more disruption when there is such an opportunity.

As it stands, the Bulls will head into Atlanta looking to get back on track against a team that plays great at home and has the personnel to score from all over the floor.

This is a chess match

The Hawks have generally played small ball due to Al Horford's injury which gives Tom Thibodeau plenty of leeway in how he wishes to attack the Hawks. He can counter with more small ball in order to get more ball handling and shooting on the floor, or he can counter by going big and hoping to crush the Hawks on the boards and in the paint.

The problem with the Bulls big lineup is that if they go truly big with Omer and Noah they don't have enough offensive prowess to dominate due to their size, but I like the Bulls keeping to legit big men on the floor at all times and trying to press their interior advantage.

Oh Luol, you try so hard

I will not question Deng's toughness, effort, heart, or intensity, but it's clear the wrist is really holding back his game significantly. If Rose and Hamilton were healthy, I'd go as far as to recommend Deng just shut it down until the last three or four games of the season in order to hit the playoffs in less pain.

Hopefully the extra days off during the stretch run and playoffs allow Deng to get some relief, but he's at a point where he rarely dribbles with his left hand, gets stripped more frequently, and can't get to the hoop nearly as much. His shot has always been somewhat inconsistent, and he's forced into far more jumpers now.

He's still grinding and working every game and doing the best he can with what he has, but he's hardly the guy who earned an all-star selection earlier this season.

Tonight, Deng's primary focus should be on the defensive end as he'll likely match up against Joe Johnson all night long. If he can force Johnson into tough shots and a poor outing then Chicago's odds will improve considerably.

The team's slide in play coincides with Noah's. Coincidence?

Chicago has played poorly as a team in three straight games. Joakim Noah has played poorly in three straight games. Coincidence? I think not. With Rose out, Joakim is the heart of the team. When playing well he makes tons of plays that don't show up in the box score.

He contests rebounds on the offensive end even without getting boards which slows the opponent's transition game down. He intimidates guys in the paint, gets offensive put backs, moves the ball efficiently as an offensive facilitator, and gets Chicago easy looks in transition.

However, besides the more tangible of his intangibles, the key thing Noah brings is a contagious attitude and energy. When Noah gets pumped up, the team gets pumped up. His play becomes infectious. He swings momentum.

Joakim Noah has a match up against the thuggish Zaza Pachulia. Zaza will look to make up for a lack of size and athleticism with elbows, shoving, and underhanded play. Will it get to Noah or simply wake him up? I think the latter. I expect a big game from Joakim tonight and think if the Bulls are to win that he'll be the biggest reason why.

Create defense by changing the offense

The past couple games Chicago has failed to bring one of the top defenses in the NBA to the party, and that caused them to need overtime against the Raptors and lose to the Nuggets. As noted above, their more jump shooting style of offense has significantly impacted their defense.

If they can get more looks down low, especially against a smaller Atlanta front court, their defense should be in much better position to stop the Hawks. Chicago should try to coax a good game out of Boozer and force the game into a slower pace where it becomes a battle of half court defenses.

Their own defense will then play to its strength of fundamentals and movement while limiting the weaknesses of perimeter size which tend to get exploited more in transition.

Don't see the Bulls winning this one

It's not often I predict a Bulls loss, because the Bulls lose so infrequently, but this is a very tough game for them. Atlanta has too much talent in their starting lineup, plays great at home, and Chicago seems to have lost much of whatever fairy dust they sprinkled on their team to win so many games without Derrick already.

They have done well without Rose against marquee opponents, but I think that streak will end tonight in Atlanta as well as their lack of consecutive loss streak.

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  • I agree with you..It's very hard for me to see the bulls pulling it out. I dont think it will be a blowout like the nuggets game but it wont be close either. KC reported Rip took contact today and is gametime. Derrick did more running but contact. Hopefully he can return for the OKC game

  • The question may be also, SHOULD the Bulls keep the "no consecutive losses" streak alive. Not tank the game, but will it be a good lesson to have and not do it in the postseason when the cost is far more grave.

  • David Stern thinks that goal tending should be eliminated, and so do I.
    http://probasketballtalk.nbcsports.com/2012/03/28/david-stern-says-league-will-discuss-adding-goaltending-calls-to-instant-replay-list/

    Actually, I've always thought that offensive goaltending should be eliminated, not so sure about the defensive kind. Either way I think that it would make the game better and more exciting.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    I'd love to get rid of any goal tending once the ball hits the rim, however, I'd like to keep a basket interference penalty if you hit the rim while the ball is on it to prevent people from jumping up and just grabbing the rim down while the ball is on it to shoot the ball out.

  • Nice points about our offensive options tonight. I definitely wouldn't mind seeing the Bulls rotating through a few different schemes: small ball featuring JL3, Asik/Noah twin towers, Boozing. Experimenting is especially important considering the Bulls staff should be thinking ahead to the playoffs. If the Hawks catch the Pacers in the standings, we could see them in the second round.

    I've actually been wondering about the Bulls odds this year, especially since we might face a "dangerous" 8th seed like the Knicks or Bucks before a tough second-round matchup. Yesterday, I played around with the ESPN Playoff Predictor for a while. Then I started collecting data on playoff upsets in previous years. The results and comparisons are here:

    http://shaqhack.tumblr.com/

    The good news for Bulls fans is that the previous lockout year (1999) did not see any increase in total # of upsets (it's usually 3 or 4). Bad news for us is there WAS an uptick in "big" upsets in which a team more than two spots lower in the seeding ended up winning the series. Obviously in 1999 that was due mostly to the Knicks, but Philly won an unlikely series that year as well so it's worth keeping in mind. Here's hoping Thibs and his staff are already beginning to sketch playoff plans.

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    So what is the record for most consecutive regular season victories without losing back to back games? I keep hearing that the Bulls have set the franchise record, but what's the league record?

  • In reply to bwally47:

    That's a good question, no idea, but it wouldn't surprise me if Chicago sets it.

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    I think the streak is over! The bulls are gonna lose tonight! they have enough O without rose and deng! Also i think tonights games have potential for some seriously good bets that u shud take advantage of! I wrote all about it in my blog so come check it out broooo http://nbawagers.com/2012/03/nba-upset-alert-to-use-in-parlay/

  • I agree with everyone else that I don't see the Bulls winning this one, but I believe everyone should worry about the guys getting healthy and finishing the regular season strong with maybe securing the first seed if not the second seed in the east. Having the top seed means nothing really, it certainly didn't help last year. If the Bulls do meet Miami for the ECF crown, not having the top seed might hurt then but not before they face the Heat.

  • Good preview Doug, but unlike most of the defeatists who frequent this blog I'm going strongly with the Bulls. When you're talking about big games Noah, like Derek Rose, shows up and in dominating fashion. My only worry is that pretender at point guard, C.J. Watson, who really only cares about his numbers, especially since he seems to be in a death struggle with Lucas.
    The Bulls will win and in convincing fashion because they're a better team, even without Rose.

  • In reply to SlamDunk:

    Cue Happy Gilmore... You were right, we were wrong. You're the best, we're the worst. Your very good looking, we're not that attractive.

  • Normally I dont comment during games but Stacy just compared JL3 to Vinnie johnson. Instead of calling him the "microwave" he called him an "easy bake oven" Hilarious. BTW Cap't Kirk is available after the season. Would love the bulls to bring him back. He is a solid Guard who can defend, score, and most importantly run the offense which CJ struggles with at times.

  • In reply to insertclichehere:

    I'd go with the midget microwave.

  • In reply to insertclichehere:

    Stacy and the Bulls both killing it out there tonight. Let's pray the bombs keep falling.

  • In reply to insertclichehere:

    Crap. Just turned on the game to a JL3 turnover. And now we're only up 4.

  • In reply to bzoooty:

    Typed too soon. It was CJ and we immediately went on a massive run.

  • In reply to insertclichehere:

    I don't think Kirk can really score or create particularly well at this point in his career, he's pretty much purely a defensive specialist these days.

  • In reply to insertclichehere:

    I'd be okay with Kirt at or near the minimum with a role as a 3rd/4th guard perhaps, but his role should be pretty limited as should his salary if he comes back.

  • Good to see Deng finally having a good offensive game.

  • In reply to Shakes:

    Yes, but unfortunately it was mostly on knocking down open three pointers. Great job knocking them down, but not so great in terms of what it poitns to for the future.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    It's been a struggle for him to even do that lately.

  • Glad to see that the Mataboozer is back to playing "Playoff" caliber ball against an Eastern Conference playoff team.

    In the last 5 minutes(which coincides with the Mataboozer reentering the game) the lead has shrunk from 18 to 4. Nice of him to escort Teague to the basket on consecutive uncontested layups.

  • Bulls come up with another impressive win. All I can say is good win by the Bulls and keep up the intensity without Rose

  • Has Thibodeau not lost 2 consecutive regular season games in his head coaching career?

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    That's true, and a crazy stat given how many games he's now coached.

  • Let's go for the record!

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