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Chicago Bulls vs. Atlanta Hawks Preview: let’s do this second-rate stuff again

Let’s Run It Back

NBA: Chicago Bulls at Atlanta Hawks Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Chicago Bulls (21-10) vs. Atlanta Hawks (15-18)

All is well in Bulls world.

Chicago is 8-2 in their last 10 games (best record of any Eastern Conference team in that stretch) and sit at No. 2 in the conference behind a Brooklyn Nets team they have already beaten twice (they have the fifth-best record in the NBA for those keeping score at home, the Golden State Warriors, Phoenix Suns, and Utah Jazz all also have better records).

They are finally beating teams that they are supposed to as well. Since Dec. 19, they proved they can beat the Los Angeles Lakers even with LeBron James back, avenged ugly losses from earlier in the season against the Houston Rockets and Indiana Pacers and then took care of business against a short-handed Atlanta Hawks team. It all has added up to a four-game winning streak for your Chicago Bulls.

The Bulls are finally getting most of their guys off the COVID-19 list and back in the games. Great news if you are fan of winning a championship, not so great news if your name is Mac McClung or one of the other fringe guys on the roster who is there because of all the guys going out with COVID-19 (absolutely nothing against McClung who was a really good college player, is fun to watch, and who I’m sure is a good dude).

The Bulls are also getting another key piece back who will help them immensely in the hype department.

And in another piece of just fantastic news, the Chicago Bulls are coming off a game where their big 3 guys, DeMar DeRozan, Zach LaVine, and Nikola Vucevic, had their best collective effort of the season. The ensuing spectacle a glimpse at how high this team’s ceiling can rise if all three of these guys can consistently figure it out all on the same day.

In the game Monday night against the Hawks, they combined for 89 points, DeRozan (35 points and 10 assists) and Vucevic (24 points and 17 rebounds) had double-doubles, and they also combined for 25 of the Bulls 29 assists. The Bulls are going to be exceptionally hard to beat if those three players are able to consistently put up performances like that.

In an NBA scheduling quirk, the Bulls get the Hawks in back-to-back games although this time they will matchup at the United Center. Earlier this season, they dropped both games of a back-to-back against the Sixers so hopefully the Bulls can cancel out those two losses with another win against the Hawks.

Injury Report:

The Hawks are in even worse shape as they were on Monday, with now Bogdan Bogdanovic and Gorgui Dieng out due to entering health protocols, and only Wes Iwundu (who is a 10-day guy) returning.

Altogether, the Hawks have only 4 ‘season active roster’ players available in Trae Young, Cam Reddish, Clint Capela and Skylar Mays. The other 8 are 10-day hardship types, but that’s more than enough to play an NBA game in 2021.

For the Bulls, only change is Derrick Jones is slated to return, but Marko Simonovic was added to the health and safety protocols list earlier today.

Game Time: NBC Sports Chicago; 7:00 p.m.