Bulls vs. Hawks preview: Bulls welcome former Bench Mobber Kyle Korver and struggling Hawks to UC

USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Korver returns to the United Center for the first time since being traded to the Hawks this offseason. The Hawks have lost five of their last six games.

So let's just try and forget about what happened on Saturday night, shall we? Tonight, the Bulls will welcome another struggling squad to Chicago in the Atlanta Hawks.

The rather revamped Hawks got off to a marvelous start this year (Matt predicted they would be good this year despite the radical changes), jumping out to a 20-10 record after 30 games. One of those wins was a 92-75 beat down of the Bulls back on Dec. 22 at Philips Arena, one of the few times this season where the Bulls simply weren't competitive. Al Horford had 20 points and 10 rebounds, and all five Hawks starters scored in double-digits. The Bulls were slammed on the boards 45-31 and generally just stunk up the joint. At least Vlad Rad hit a three!

But since the calendar turned to 2013, the Hawks have found themselves in a rut. They have gone just 2-5 in the new year, with bad losses to the Pistons, Cavaliers and Wizards (see, the Bulls aren't the only ones!). To be somewhat fair, all those losses were on the road, but it's still hard to excuse a string of those bad losses no matter the location.

The Hawks' defense remains strong (even if Sam Smith doesn't believe so), as they are sixth in the NBA in points allowed per game and eighth in defensive efficiency. Where the Hawks have had problems are on offense. In the seven games so far in the month of January, the Hawks are averaging just 90.3 points per game. In the five losses, that number goes down to 86.8 points per game.

The Hawks' offensive issues aren't all that surprising, because while they do have some talented players, they lack a legitimate go-to guy and aren't exactly scaring anybody with their backcourt. Horford and Josh Smith can certainly be a load up front, and Smith especially is a matchup problem for the Bulls thanks to his athleticism at the 4. But as we all know, Smith is prone to inconsistency. He does lead the team in scoring at 16.7 points per game, but he's only shooting 44.3 percent from the field and has a true shooting percentage of just 47.8 percent. He still inexplicably takes too many jumpers, taking over four long twos per game despite shooting just 27.0 percent from that distance. He's also taking a career-high amount of threes, and while he's making them at a career-high rate of 33.3 percent, there's little reason for him to be taking so many jumpers when he's making nearly 80 percent of his shots at the rim.

One storyline to watch of course is the return of former Bench Mobber Kyle Korver. Korver played well in the win over the Bulls in December and has enjoyed a pretty damn good season overall. He has missed some time due to injury but has started in 30 of 31 games he has played in. He's averaging 10.3 points, knocking down 43.8 percent of his threes and sporting a pretty awesome true shooting percentage of 61.0 percent. He's also second on the team in plus/minus. Safe to say the Hawks are pretty happy the Bulls were willing to trade him there for nothing.

Korver will be in the starting lineup tonight as usual, along with Horford, Smith, Jeff Teague and Devin Harris. Harris recently returned from a foot injury, bumping Lou Williams back to the bench. Teague, Harris and Williams are all quick guards who could give the Bulls some problems, but they aren't especially efficient with their scoring and can be shut down with the proper defensive effort. Korver will be matched up against Luol Deng, which should be a major advantage for the Bulls, but one that wasn't really exploited in the first meeting.

The Bulls have had some problems in Atlanta the past few seasons, but they've mostly taken care of business on their home court, winning four in a row over the Hawks at the UC. However, the Bulls are just 10-10 on the West Side this year, so who knows what the hell will happen. Coming off such a dreadful performance, I would expect the Bulls to rebound with a solid performance tonight, but again, who the hell knows.

For more on the Hawks, be sure to check out Peachtree Hoops. And here's a video via Peachtree Hoops of Korver talking about the matchup, with some nice words about Deng:


Stats via Hoopdata

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

Join Blog a Bull

You must be a member of Blog a Bull to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Blog a Bull. You should read them.

Join Blog a Bull

You must be a member of Blog a Bull to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Blog a Bull. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9347_tracker