The Chicago Bulls and Atlanta Hawks are both coming off a Friday night game. The Bulls beat the Knicks in a physical throwdown while Hawks were blown out by the 76ers.
Atlanta will definitely be the fresher team as Al Horford was the only player to log over 30 minutes for the Hawks. That said the Hawks have struggled recently after starting the season strong losing three of their past four while the Bulls have played well recently after limping through their west coast road trip.
Luol or no Luol?
Deng left the Knicks game temporarily after what appeared to be a major injury. He later returned to the game and played reasonably but admitted postgame that his shoulder was sore.
Deng and Noah have been the heart of the team with Rose out and if Deng can't go it will be a significant blow to Chicago's chances. The good news for Bulls fans is Deng injured his left shoulder, so it shouldn't impact his shooting. That said, his rebounding and defense may be impacted by the soreness if he doesn't have full flexibility of his arm.
I expect Deng will tough it out given it was his left shoulder, and as we know, the Bulls will throw anyone on the court regardless of how hurt they are. Deng would be crucial for this game as well since the Hawks don't really have anyone who can defend him. Korver would be the natural choice as the starting SF, but Deng should eat Korver alive.
Don't expect much, if anything from Taj
Gibson played four minutes against the Knicks and looked like he could barely walk while out on the court (see above on Bulls willingness to play anyone). One day probably isn't enough to make the ankle significantly better so if Gibson suits up, he's probably not going to contribute a whole lot.
Will the Teague's match up?
Marquis Teague hasn't been in the rotation for more than a few seconds with Hinrich healthy, but he'd be a good option to stick his brother if the Bulls struggle to defend Jeff. He'll obviously know his tendencies better than anyone else and has the athleticism/wingspan to deal with him better than Hinrich/Robinson.
I doubt Thibs makes the substitution, but I like the odds of it working out if he did.
Tough, but winnable, game
The Bulls odds will be heavily impacted by if (and how well) Deng plays. Chicago could be fatigued, but fatigue hasn't been a factor so far this season, so I don't see why it should be tonight either. The Bulls are the hotter team, and as long as Deng is able to provide his typical game the Bulls have an excellent chance to pick up another win.
Filed under: Game Threads