[Thanks to Rohmeresque for today's game preview -yfbb]
Well, here we are again Bulls fans. After delighting us all with a 5 game losing streak, which ended in a blow out loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Bulls are on a 3 game winning streak. Just as the Bulls had given you every reason to throw this season away they offer up a glimmer of hope. But the question remains: have the Bulls finally turned a corner? The positives of this 3 game win streak are that the Bulls have 88 assists during that span, and even with the plethora of injuries the offense looks to be running smoothly. E'twaun Moore and Doug McDermott are looking more and more comfortable with each game, and that is truly good news, especially because talk of McDermott being a bust was becoming more than just a whisper around Chicago. But as we've since the beginning of the season, it's never just good news with these the Bulls. The bad news is that the defense has continued to be abysmal. The Bulls have given up at least 100 points in the last 11 straight games. Additionally, the Bulls rank dead last in Offensive Rebounds Allowed. So while the Bulls seem to be coming together on the offensive side the defensive side has taken a total nosedive.
The Bulls face the Atlanta Hawks tonight, who they are 0-2 against this season. The mobility of the Hawks on offense is exactly the kind of offense that gives the Bulls a good deal of trouble. In their last two meetings, the Bulls gave up 113 and 120 points to the Hawks and there's no reason to think that is going to change. The Bulls will be working with their regular laundry list of injuries: Joakim Noah (out for season), Jimmy Butler (sprained knee), Nikola Mirotic (appendectomy) are all out, and now Derrick Rose (who missed the last game against the Wizards) is listed as questionable. On the other side the Atlanta Hawks will only be dealing with the loss of Tiago Splitter (out for season) who recently chose to get surgery on his hip.
With the way the Bulls have been dominated this year by the Hawks it's hard to see a victory tonight. In particular, the mobility of Horford and Milsap never fails to give the Bulls a huge amount of trouble. On top of that, in the last meeting Dennis Schroder added 18 points and is among the best backup point guards in the league (in fact, there was much talk about the Hawks trading Jeff Teague at the deadline, because of the belief in Schroder to take over the starting role). The thought of Schroder going up against Brooks' defense is something no Bulls fan wants to think about. While I'd like very much to see the Bulls continue this win streak, it's extremely difficult to see them pulling off a win if Rose sits out the game. The Hawks offense has given the Bulls so much trouble in the past, and they do it with such ease, that even with no injuries the Bulls would be facing a legitimate challenge. So as of right now, assuming Rose doesn't play, I'm thinking the game will end in the arena of Bulls 102 Hawks 117.