Chicago Bulls-Atlanta Hawks: Eastern Conf Semis Preview


Are you excited for the NBA Playoffs? Are you enthused to see your #1 seeded Chicago Bulls advance past the Indiana Pacers and meet the Atlanta Hawks in the next round? This is crunch time, the big time!

Of course, this Monday, most of us are buzzing about something else.

There was a news story of note released Sunday night. You might have seen a little blurb, a tiny snippet here and there in the media about it. And it's much bigger and more important than basketball.

But moving back to the United Center. A series with a truly fascinating storyline: point guard battle between original mentor (Kirk Hinrich) and mentee (Derrick Rose) isn't actually going to happen after all. And the result could prove disastrous for Atlanta.

Hinrich, who would likely struggle against his superior former
teammate anyway, is out for Game 1 and doubtful for the whole series.
Atlanta will probably start second year man Jeff Teague (he played college basketball at Georgia Tech, so he didn't have to move far after graduation) and the defensive trainwreck Jamal Crawford to stop the soon-to-be MVP.

"They have quality depth, Teague has played extremely well when he;s
been in their rotation. He's a guy you can't overlook. Joe Johnson has
the ability to handle the ball and play in the paint. They have a lot of
depth in their back court, and their perimeter guys are really
skilled," Coach Tom Thibodeau said.

You remember Crawford don't you? Of course you do. He was one of the
few scoring options on some really bad Bulls teams last decade. But he's
getting hot right now and developing into a main weapon for the Atl.
They're playing with a lot of confidence now too.

"Jamal, he's a scorer, he keeps 'em in games, and they're a really
athletic team, with a lot of spots where they can change pick and
rolls," Derrick Rose said at the Berto Center Saturday.

"He's tough, one of the best scorers in the league. He knows his role
is to score, every team he's on. So we're going to try to stick 'em and
make everything tough with him."

As for the frontcourt battle, Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer (he will
play, turf toe be damned) challenge Josh Smith and Al Horford in the
paint. This series will go a long way in establishing whether Atlanta's
first round upset of Orlando should be credited to their exceptional
play, or a choke job by Dwight Howard and co.

"I'm very excited. Our next game is always the most important because
it's the next game. The only thing that changes is we have more details
about everything," Rose said about the series.

Prediction: Chicago wins 4-0. The Bulls didn't look like the team with the NBA's best record in the first round, but they have the league's Coach of the Year now in Tom Thibodeau.
And one of their meetings with Atlanta this season saw the Bulls up by
47 points at one juncture. Since Rose's ankle is fine, and Atlanta has
no answer for him, this one is easy to size up.

Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports He's also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, Walter, Yardbarker, and Fox Sports

He does a regular guest spot each week for Chicagoland Sports You can follow him on Twitter @thesportsbank and Facebook

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