Bulls vs. Hawks Game 6 Preview: Talking With Jon Barry of ESPN

CHI Bulls @ ATL Hawks Preview

The Good Guys’ Lineup:

The Bad Guys’ Lineup:

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

What?: Game point game for the Bulls. The Chicago Bulls lead the series (3-2).

When?: May 12th, 2011; 7:00 PM (Eastern Time)

Where?: Philips Arena (Atlanta, GA)

How?: ESPN(TV), ESPN Radio & 99X FM(97.9 radio)

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


I had the pleasure of talking to former Georgia Tech player, former NBA & Atlanta Hawks player, and now ESPN NBA analyst, Jon Barry, this morning.

We talked about his life growing up and Hawks & Bulls Basketball. Here’s what happened in the conversation:

We first talked about him…

I asked him if he ever gets tired of basketball, since he’s been around it his entire life with Rick Barry being his Dad, him playing in the NBA, and now him being an NBA analyst. I asked him why he decided to become an analyst after he retired from the NBA, and I also asked him how hard the transition was from being a player to being an analyst.

He responded by saying that “it doesn’t get old at all“. He loves the game of basketball, and he loves this time of the year since the best basketball is being shown right now. He said “I hate it when the playoffs end“. He also told me that he wanted to become an analyst ever since he was a kid, and that it was a pretty easy gig even when he first started and that you know if you’re comfortable talking and voicing your opinion  early and that he was.

After all that, we got to talk about the Hawks/Bulls playoff series…

I first told him that the Hawks have been one of the more surprising teams in the playoffs so far, and I asked him whether the Hawks are better than what their record has shown or if the Bulls aren’t playing up to their full potential. Jon responded by saying “A little bit of both, I don’t think Chicago has yet to really play a full good 48 minutes“. He said Game 3 of this series and the 4th quarter of Game 5 showed how good Chicago really is. He expressed the same opinions as others as he said that Chicago is a terrific defensive team, but their offense is iffy. His concern was that if Derrick Rose wasn’t having a good offensive game,  then the Chicago Bulls team is vulnerable.

I then asked him why this series has been closer than what most people have thought it would be. Jon said, “Jeff Teague has done a good job“. Jon thinks he’s a talented player, but he also gave credit that the Hawks have a lot of good offensive weapons like the Josh Smith that we saw in the past two games and the Joe Johnson that we saw in Game 1.

Sticking to the topic of Jeff Teague, I asked him what Larry Drew should do in the future with Jeff Teague and if he should start him or bench him. He expressed that it’s going to be a difficult decision by Coach Drew, but he said “I would probably stick with Teague“. He believes that Teague can run a ball club and can help this Hawks team out in different ways because of his speed. He said that if Atlanta somehow wins this series and Kirk Hinrich heals up by the time they face Miami, that he would have Teague starting and have Hinrich come off the bench.

Afterwards, I asked him whether Jeff Teague reminded him of a particular player. He said “not really“, but he went on to describe Teague’s game. He said Teague was fast and can finish in traffic, but he can’t shoot particularly well. He thinks Teague has an unorthodox type of jumpshot and that he doesn’t really look comfortable shooting it.

We then got to talking about the Chicago Bulls roster. I described the Bulls team as one of the deepest teams, and I asked him if he thinks there’s a deeper team than the Bulls. He said, “I think Dallas, but I like the Bulls’ depth better“. He gave credit to Coach Thibodeau because of how he plays this Bulls team. He likes that Thibodeau has faith in the bench players and alluded to what Thibodeau did in the 4th quarter of game 5, leaving his bench players on the floor and some starters on the bench. He said that Coach Thibodeau’s belief in his bench played a good part in the 62 win season of the Bulls.

We also talked about Derrick Rose. I asked him if he believes that Derrick Rose should have won the MVP award and if this season can be considered a disappointment for the Bulls if they don’t win the championship this year since they have the MVP, Coach of the Year, and the Co-Executive of the Year. He first said that he doesn’t have a problem with Rose winning the MVP, and then said that season wouldn’t be a disappointment if they don’t win the championship.  He says that they’re not the heavy favorites right now, so not winning a championship this year shouldn’t take away from  the amazing regular season they had. He also added that “If the Bulls lose to the Hawks in this series, then yes, it would be a disappointment.”

Since he talked about the possibility of the Bulls getting beaten by the Hawks, I asked him whether he sees the Hawks winning the next two games. He said “it’s hard for me to imagine“. He doesn’t think the Bulls can lose the next two games, but he did say that it wouldn’t surprise him if the Hawks won tonight. He thinks that if the Hawks get off to a good start in tonight’s game, they will be able to extend this series to 7 games.

We then got to talking about the Miami Heat. I told him that I remember him picking Boston or Chicago to come out of the East before the playoffs started, and I asked him whether his opinion has changed. He says that it has. He has been impressed by the Miami Heat in the playoffs, and he admitted that he underestimated the greatness LeBron James and Dwyane Wade possesses.

In my last question, I asked him whether he believes Chicago or Atlanta can challenge the Miami Heat in the Conference Finals. He says that Chicago has the talent, the defense, and the depth to challenge Miami but he would still favor the Miami Heat over Atlanta or Chicago.

After he answered the last question, I told him it was a pleasure doing this for him and we said bye. End of conversation.

Let me say that it’s kind of hard to argue with all of his opinions. The only I can argue maybe is that it wouldn’t surprise me if Atlanta wins this series. Again, I just like the way this Hawks team matches up with this Bulls team. If they can win tonight at home, I wouldn’t put it past the Hawks to win Game 7. They’ve been to 3 Game 7’s in the past 3 seasons and have won 2 out of the 3, so I would think the Hawks’ will have experience on their side.

But a HUGE thanks to Jon for taking the time to chat with me on this busy playoff Thursday. You can check him out throughout the playoffs on ESPN’s NBA coverage, and on the Kia NBA Countdown pre-game show.


I’m not ready to say the Hawks will win the next two games, but I will say that I think this video will be relevant after tonight, if you catch my drift…

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Tags: Atlanta Hawks Chicago Bulls Jon Barry

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