Bulls vs. Hawks game preview and thread
huge play-in implications! play-in-plications?
Hey! We’re back blogging on the team. Read my welcome post from Monday for some background on why the site looks like this now.
I won’t put this ‘subscribe please’ button on every post, I swear. But it’s our first game.
The blog was in a somewhat-annoying posting purgatory over the weekend where I wasn’t ready to make the switch and SBNation wanted to lock down the site on their end.
In the meantime, the Bulls won both games they played. They took care of business against the tank-y Hornets, and then in a pretty remarkable game against the Grizzlies at home the Bulls turned a 20+ point deficit into a 20+ point win.
That Grizzlies matchup was an interesting way to counter the ‘math problem’ the Bulls face every night in their 3-point attempt deficit. The Griz went 19-43 from distance while the Bulls had their usual paltry 9-31. But the Bulls made up for that math problem with this solution: just never turn the ball over.
And then turn your opponent over every damned time:
This prompted Darnell Mayberry to ask at The Athletic: “But if the Bulls perform as they did in Sunday’s second half, who’s to say they can’t extend the year beyond this final week of the regular season?”
I’m pretty confident that hypothetical situation won’t happen. That kind of turnover differential is akin to the Boylen 35-assist mark. They won’t perform as they did in the second half of that game, or more accurately won’t perform like they did while their opponent (with a Chicago hangover?) performs so poorly.
And Darnell already buried this team, you can’t un-bury them!
But while the Bulls deserve to be buried, still, when it comes to a successful season, they could still make the playoffs. And to be fair, maybe that’s all Mayberry was suggesting as his optimistic goal. And getting to 8th place for the play-in tournament gives them a monumentally higher chance than if they’re in 9th or 10th.
And lookee here, tonight’s opponent, the Atlanta Hawks, are currently 1 game ahead of the Bulls (tied with the Raptors) for that 8th seed. They pulled out a truly goofy win on Sunday where they outlasted the visiting Mavericks in overtime. A couple Hawks’ games against the Bulls this year have also been up to chance: AJ Griffin had a buzzer-beater for them, and Ayo Dosunmu had one for the Bulls.
After that was a more substantial victory in Chicago on January 23rd. The Bulls didn’t even have Patrick Beverley then, so just imagine?!?!?
The Bulls just seem like the better team of the two. I haven’t figured out if it’s matchups, or Trae Young crapping himself every time he plays the Bulls. Overall, the Hawks are truly average.
The Bulls are truly average too. They were performing well below that before PatBev-day, and now slightly better than that afterwards. The Hawks also should’ve received a bump in performance after hiring Quinn Snyder as head coach, but he has not elevated them in any way in his very short tenure, and one has to consider there just isn’t a lot of time to do such a thing. Yet coach Beverley did it here, hmm.
Not only would a win tonight get the Bulls even with Atlanta, they’d earn the tiebreaker over them.
Nothing new for the Bulls, I would’ve held Alex Caruso out of that Hornets matchup as a way to manage his foot injury, but they’re just going to play him when he’s healthy enough to play, and we’ll see what games those fall on I guess.
For the Hawks,
they listed Trae Young as questionable yesterday with a non-Covid illness. When I said he crapped his pants whenever playing the Bulls, I didn’t mean that literally!
UPDATE: Trae Young is now listed as OUT for tonight. Caught that Ayo flu!
De’Andre Hunter is out with knee pain, which is huge as like any team (and especially the Bulls) they are shallow at the big wing spot. They’ll likely put Saddiq Bey on DeRozan while starting two bigs in Collins and Capela. I suppose letting Collins play free safety while ignoring Caruso.
Game Time: 7pm Central, NBC Sports Chicago
OK, comment away! I assume the lack of activity on SBNation was entirely due to their commenting system and not waning interest in this team or this website, so no excuses.