Atlanta Hawks vs. Chicago Bulls Game 5 Preview; Rebounding Is The Key.

ATL Hawks @ CHI Bulls Preview

The Good Guys’ Lineup:

The Bad Guys’ Lineup:

Who?: Atlanta Hawks (44 – 38) @ Chicago Bulls (62 – 20) [Their regular season records]

What?: The series is tied after the Hawks won Game 4. (2-2)

When?: May 10th, 2011; 8:00 PM (Eastern Time)

Where?: United Center (Chicago, IL)

How?: TNT(TV) & 99X FM(97.9 radio)

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Injuries:
Chicago: None to report.
Atlanta: Kirk Hinrich (hamstring) is out.

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One big key to beating the Bulls is rebounding. You have to stay competitive with them in the boards.

I looked at all the 7 matchups (3 regular season and 4 playoff games) the Hawks and Bulls have had this season, and one thing that was clear, the Hawks find success when they rebound the ball and they get embarrassed when they don’t.

The Hawks are 3-4 vs. the Bulls this season.

In the 4 losses, they lost the rebounding battle in all the games. Not surprising, but they were an average -17 on the boards vs. the Bulls in the losses.

In the 3 wins, they only outrebounded the Bulls one time (in Game 1, by 1), however, they did stay competitive in the rebounding battle. The Hawks were only an average -3 on the boards in the 3 wins.

Stopping Derrick Rose is of course the best way to stop the Bulls, but rebounding is the best way to stay competitive.

Rebounding takes more than effort, but for the Hawks case, I don’t think it’s not.  The Hawks have all the players to be a good rebounding team. Joe is a tall guard. Josh Smith is athletic. Al Horford is athletic. Marvin Williams is long. Zaza is a hard-nosed, physical player. Jason Collins is a smart positional player. It really just comes down to effort. The Hawks need to make it a priority to crash the boards. They have been solid on defense all series long but sometimes they give the Bulls multiple tries in a possession because they don’t rebound the ball. The Hawks have to limit the second chance points and limit the Bulls to one shot per possession.

What (or who) to watch out for:

  • Rebounding. See what I wrote above.
  • Joe Johnson, Al Horford, Jamal Crawford, and Josh Smith. Another trend I saw is that Joe, Al, Jamal, and Josh collectively have good games when the Hawks beat the Bulls and they collectively have subpar games when they lose. They are a combined 81-163 (49%) from the field in the three wins vs. the Bulls this season. They are a combined 72-166 (43%) from the field in the four losses vs. the Bulls this season. Basically, all four guys can’t be struggling if the Hawks want to win.
  • Derrick Rose. I watched First Take on ESPN2 this morning and Skip Bayless said he is starting to see a theme with Derrick Rose. One day it will be “Rose” and the next day it will be “Thorns”. He said Game 4 was “Thorns” so he thinks Game 5 will be “Rose”. That is somewhat true, Rose hurts people when his jumpshot is on and his jumpshot tends to be up and down. If he can knock down his jumpers tonight, the Hawks will be in big trouble.
  • How will the Bulls respond to pressure? The pressure is on them to win this one. This is an important game for both teams, but Chicago has to be feeling more pressure than the Hawks since they are the team that everyone expects to win. Derrick Rose is the MVP and Coach Thibbodeau is the Coach of the Year. If the Bulls lose this game, they’ll receive a lot of heat from the media. If the Hawks lose this game, not many people will blame the Hawks too much. They are SUPPOSED to lose.

Some things you need (or would want) to know:

  • If you missed it, it is Jeff Teague’s time and not LD’s time…: Click here.
  • If you missed it, here’s my Hawks/Bulls Playoff Series Preview: Click here.
  • If you missed it, here’s a Q&A I did with Chicago Bulls expert, Josh Hill: Click here.
  • If you missed it, here’s my Hawks/Bulls Playoff Series Preview I did with @TheNoLookPass: Click here.
  • The starting lineup without Hinrich is Teague/Johnson/Smith/Horford/Collins.
  • This is the only 2nd time they are using that lineup. They are 1-0 so far when using it.
  • The Bulls won the season series vs. Hawks, 2-1.

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Prediction: Call me a homer if you want, but I have the Hawks winning this one. I know people are still hesitant, since the Hawks are pretty schizophrenic, but I have a lot of faith in this team right now. That Game 4 win in my opinion, is one of the biggest playoff wins the Hawks have had since 2008. They just look like a different team, a team that wants it. A mentally tougher team. I have never seen or felt more confidence from this Hawks team than I have right now. They believe they can beat anyone in the entire league, and when they believe that….I can’t help but believe it too. Hawks will shock the world tonight once again. If not….

Topics: Atlanta Hawks, Chicago Bulls, Josh Smith

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