[Thanks to Orange Juice for today's game preview. Bulls get a bit fortunate if indeed Josh Smith is out. Another early start, 6pm on THE U -ed.]
There are two teams the Bulls haven't beaten this season: the Knicks and the Hawks. The Bulls will play the new-look Knicks in April (Game #81), and are going to play the Hawks for the first time tonight.
The Hawks will be without Atlanta native Josh Smith, who sprained his right knee against the Nuggets on Monday, but they will have Kirk Hinrich back tonight. And apparently Kirk will make his ATL debut in the starting lineup (it was a matter of time, Teague has been horrible) and he will be joined by Joe Johnson, Marvin Williams, Al Horford, and Jason Collins. The Hawks have found some success with this bigger lineup, as it allows Horford to play his true position as a PF, but Collins is a big sexy wannabe, so will Thibs hide Boozer on Collins and let Noah guard his ex-college teammate?
(A side note - I think every team in the East should thank the Hawks front office for selecting a fat ass (literally, you can't miss it) with the #2 pick instead of CP3 or DWill. Can you imagine what the Hawks would be like with a top 3 point guard? They wouldn't be stuck in the 2nd round of the playoffs.)
The Bulls are coming off perhaps their most dominant victory of the season, but give credit to the Wizards for playing horribly. Obviously this will be a closer game (a white mamba sighting is unlikely) but the Hawks will miss J-Smoove as he really brings a lot of intangibles in addition to his defense and highlight factory dunks. Still, they have reigning sixth man of the year Jamal Crawford coming off the bench as well as fan favorite Zaza Pachulia, so the Bulls second unit needs to continue to play well. This will be a chance for DRose to show Kirk how much he has improved since last season.
Oh I should also mention Deng, who is forever underrated as I always say and deserves a shout-out, especially since he has been playing well.
Would be great to kick of a three-game beat-the-East-playoff-teams stretch (that gets progressively tougher) with a win in the dirty south!