From what I saw this morning, Sam Smith had the most comprehensive initial look at the potential matchup against Atlanta. Not sure if this next bit means much, but it made me ponder as I strive to find any potential pitfalls for the Bulls in this series:
I thought Magic coach Stan Van Gundy made a salient point about the Hawks in his post game following the Magic’s elimination. I still thought they’d win after being down 3-1 because I think so little of the Hawks.
Van Gundy was too discreet to phrase it that way, but basically Van Gundy said they were front runners. You know, get them behind and they give up.
"Five of the six games they had double figure leads," said Van Gundy. "We got them down one time (and won easily, Game 5). If you get them down they are not good coming from behind. They are great from out in front."
That’s possibly one small issue with the Bulls. The Bulls tend to ease into games and don’t have many quick starts. They did so against the Pacers in Game 5 and blew them out. Rose tends to feel out games and usually doesn’t score big early. The Bulls may have to push him to be more aggressive to start.
Again, not sure that actually means much. Ultimately the Bulls have the type of defense that Atlanta usually doesn't get creative or patient enough to exploit, and on the other side they have even fewer answers against Derrick Rose than initially believed with Kirk Hinrich injuring his hamstring last night.
Sam also takes a look back at the season matchups. From the BaB archives, here are the recaps from the March loss and the later-in-March blowout win, possibly the most impressive victory of the season.
I suppose the question remains that if they're so bad, how did they beat the Magic? It really could've just been a unique matchup with the Hawks deploying Jason Collins to slow Dwight Howard, and the Magic being anemic otherwise. That won't be as advantageous against the Bulls, and in fact the Hawks may be best to abandon it while they're ahead.
Again, little out there that suggests the Bulls won't be firmly in control. I'll let the fantastic Hawks blog Hoopinion put it succinctly:
There is no bullish Bull for Jason Collins to defend and there is no Atlanta guard* who can reasonably be expected to stay in front of Derrick Rose.
*Hinrich mostly stayed in front of Rose in the blowout loss in Atlanta on March 22nd but did so by giving Rose open jumpers which Rose knocked down at an unsustainably high rate. Even Hinrich would be looking to slow, rather than stop, Rose.
Plus, the Hawks scored 98.8, 89.4, and 94.2 points per 100 possessions in three meetings against the league's finest defensive team. Without a specialist to drag Chicago's (admittedly average offense) down to their level, with Chicago's best player positioned to exploit Atlanta's greatest defensive weakness, and Al Horford having suffered an additional injury since he led the Hawks to their lone victory on the strength of their two lone competitive quarters against the Bulls it's difficult to envision Atlanta competing in their next playoff series.
Winning a game against the Bulls would be some sort of mark of progress.
And of course make sure to also check out Peachtree Hoops in the coming days.