Friday, April 29, 2011

Eastern Conference Playoffs Round 2 - Chicago Bulls vs. Atlanta Hawks

The Hawks are riding into the Windy City after beating the Magic and the Bulls are at home licking their wounds from a tough series against the Indiana Pacers.

Chicago Bulls:

Tough series against the Pacers who decided if you can't beat them, BEAT them.  The Pacers used their bigs and their long wing players to literally beat up the Bulls which put them in a position to win each game.  The Bulls got an MVP series from Derrick Rose and that's about it.  Luol Deng has shown up in the playoffs and he's gotta show some moxie because he is playing a high number of minutes.  The strength of this team has been Rose and it's bench and with some timely shooting from Korver and defense by Noah, Gibson, etc. the Bulls are in a good position to,........(hold on now),.....I'll just say they are in a good position to make it to the Eastern Conference Finals.  Boozer has disappointed thus far and will need a good/great series to get back in to the good graces of the Chicago fans.  

Atlanta Hawks:

I did say that they would win, right?  You guys need to learn how to take this stuff to the bank.  The Hawks beat a Magic team that they probably shouldn't have.  The highlight of the series has to have been Joe Johnson (outside of Game 5).  Joe seemed to relish the opportunity to be 'THE MAN' for this team and with a lot of help from Jamal Crawford, the Hawks are here.  Hinrich got hurt and looks like he'll be limited when he does play again.  I know that for Hinrich and Crawford this has to be an opportunity that they enjoy having in playing their former team.  Josh Smith had a horrible Game 6 for the Hawks, so I imagine that he'll be ready to ball.  The matchups are going to be great in this series for the Hawks bigs, with Horford and Smith probably doing a lot of damage in this series. 


Bulls - Taj Gibson and Omer Asik.  Gibson has been a defensive presence all year long and with Boozer hobbled by turf toe (is this the Duke injury du joir?) Gibson will get extra run.  With Gibson playing extra, I imagine that the Bulls will try to go bigger than the Hawks by giving Asik more run in this series too.  If the Bulls can control the boards, this is a cake walk for them. 

Hawks - Joe Johnson and Jeff Teague.  Johnson proved that maybe, just maybe he looked good in that $120M contract.  Yes, he's the second leading scorer on his team in the playoffs, but Crawford is supposed to come in and just shoot.  Teague (I think I said this before) will have to come in and play more with Hinrich nursing a sore/pulled hamstring.  Teague is one of those smallish point guards that may be able to make Rose play some defense.  If Teague can play well, this Hawks team might pull the upset.   

Prediction: Is this the Bulls year?  We all know that Boozer has to step up, but this Bulls team is too deep to let the Hawks come in and beat them right?  What happens when Rose turns into a jump shooter?  Can the Hawks do that?  That's a lot of maybes and in that case, I'll take the Bulls.  Barring an injury to Deng or Rose, this one should be simple.  Bulls 4-2.  

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