Uh-oh. Another national televised game... Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-US PRESSWIRE

2/20 Atlanta Hawks vs. Chicago Bulls Game Day Preview

Who?: Atlanta Hawks (19-12) vs. Chicago Bulls (25-8)

When?: February 20th, 2012; 4:00 PM (Eastern Time)

Where?: United Center (Chicago, IL)

How?: SportSouth HD (TV), ESPN(TV) & 680 AM (93.7 radio)

Other Atlanta Hawks Coverage: Atlanta Hawks Fan Site, AJC Blog, Peachtree Hoops (SB Nation), Hoopinion (TrueHoop)

Fansided’s Chicago Bulls Blogs : Pippen Ain’t Easy

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Projected Starting Lineups:

Atlanta Hawks:

PG: Jeff Teague | SG: Willie Green | C: Al Horford | PF: Josh Smith | SF: Joe Johnson

Chicago Bulls:

PG: Derrick Rose* | SG: Ronnie Brewer | C: Joakim Noah | PF: Carlos Boozer | SF: Luol Deng

*Derrick Rose is still a game-time decision. He’ll more than likely play, but if somehow he doesn’t, CJ Watson will take his place.

Injury Report:

Atlanta: Al Horford (left pectoral surgery) and Jason Collins (sprained left elbow) are out. Marvin Williams will also miss game as he’s attending a funeral service for a family member in Seattle.

Chicago: Derrick Rose (lower back) is a game time decision, and Richard Hamilton (right thigh) is out.

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Current Records/Streak & Hot, Lukewarm, or Cold:

Records: The Atlanta Hawks are (19-12) and the Chicago Bulls are (25-8).

Against .500 or above teams: The Hawks are (6-11) and the Blazers are (9-6)

Streak: The Hawks are riding a 1 game losing streak, and the Bulls are also on a 1 game losing streak.

Away/Home: The Hawks are (10-7) on the road, and the Bulls are (11-2) at home.

Atlanta Hawks- Cold. The Hawks have got me pessimistic coming into this game because of their loss against the Portland TrailBlazers. They haven’t fared well against .500+ teams recently (3 game losing streak against .500+ teams), and they’re facing one of the best .500+ teams in the NBA today. The Hawks have also lost 3 out of their last 4 games.

Chicago Bulls- Lukewarm. They are coming off a home loss against the New Jersey Nets and riding a one game losing streak. Granted, they were without the reigning MVP, but a loss to the Nets is just bad…especially at home. The Bulls are 3-2 in their last 5 games (all without Derrick Rose).

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Season/Past Season Series:

This will be the third time the Hawks and Bulls have met this season. The two teams have split the season series so far, both winning one game in their homecourt. The Bulls won the first game, 76-74, and the Hawks won the second game, 109-94.

They will face one more time this season on March 28 in Atlanta.

Game Preview:

Ahhhh, the mini-mini rivaly game, Bulls vs. Hawks.

Honestly, coming into this game, I’m not holding much hope that the Hawks will win this one. The Chicago Bulls have always been a tough opponent for the Hawks, especially when the Bulls are the one hosting the game.

Yes, the Hawks did beat the Chicago Bulls earlier this season, and their only loss against them was only a two point margin, but Horford was still healthy and playing in those two games. With Horford out, it’s looking bleak for the Hawks today.

Also, add the facts that Derrick Rose will more than likely come back and play today, Marvin Williams is out for personal reasons, it’s a national televised game (…..), and the Bulls are playing at home, all signs are pointing to a Hawks loss.

The Chicago Bulls have also not lost consecutive games in the regular season since February 5-7, a span of 65 games. That’s the longest active streak in the NBA right now.

All I know is that, if the Hawks win tonight, it just might be the biggest win of the season.

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3 Things I’m Looking Out For:

  • Defense. Defense. Defense. Defense. The Bulls are 12-0 when they score 100 or more points in a game, and they’re 11-0 when they shoot 50% or better. That stat just shows that there’s no way the Hawks will win this game if they don’t play any defense. Of course, when talking about defending well against the Chicago Bulls….it starts off with making sure Derrick Rose doesn’t get “hot”. Fortunately for the Hawks, they have two capable defenders in Teague and Hinrich. If those two can make Derrick Rose have a bad game, they’ll put the Hawks in a good position to steal a win in Chicago.
  • Shot selection. First thing you think of when you think of Chicago? Defense. Why is their defense so good? They make you take tough shots. Who likes to take tough shots? The Atlanta Hawks…and Josh Smith. The Bulls will probably try to make the Hawks a perimeter team tonight, which could work or could not work. The Hawks do have players that can get hot in the perimeter (Johnson, Radmanovic, Green, Teague, Hinrich and at times….Josh Smith), but if those shots aren’t going in, they have to attack the basket. What impressed me the most about Teague in the playoff series last season vs. the Bulls, was that he was relentless on attacking the basket. They had a pretty well balanced offense because of it. That’s what the Hawks need to do tonight to beat the tough Bulls defense, have a balanced offense.
  • Tracy McGrady & Overall Rotation. According to Arthur Triche, Willie Green has replaced Marvin Williams in the starting lineup tonight. I would have liked to see either Hinrich or McGrady get inserted instead, but hey, if there is a player that has earned it… it’s Willie. Irregardless (Larry Drew joke, get it?) McGrady’s minutes will certainly be on watch tonight. He has recently complained publicly about his playing time, so how Larry Drew will handle that is certainly something to watch.

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Tags: Atlanta Hawks Carlos Boozer Chicago Bulls Derrick Rose Josh Smith Tracy McGrady