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2011 NBA Playoffs Hawks - Bulls : Peachtree Hoops Series Preview

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<strong>Focal Point.</strong>
Focal Point.

We had questions. We had answers. The Hawks, for the third straight year, is knocking on the second round door. They are heavy underdogs to do what they have never done since coming to ATL, advance past the second round of the playoffs. 

Kris Willis and I answered questions from the Atlanta Hawks Random Question Generator involving this series, and herein lay the results:

The Hawks are prohibitive underdogs (again)....what, if anything gives you hope in this series?

Kris Willis: Two things give me hope. One is that this team seems to play better when everyone counts them out. Two as bad a match up as Rose is for Atlanta I like the way Joe Johnson, Josh Smith, and Al Horford match up with the Bulls.

Jason Walker: The second half of the first game these two teams played showed that, if Rose is missing jump shots, they can dissolve a 19-pt deficit and win.


Scale from 1 to 10: Jeff Teague playing a significant amount of time (more than 10 minutes per game)? Why?

KW: On a scale of 1 to 10 I say 8 and here is why. I think this situation is very similar to the period right after Atlanta traded for Hinrich. I think Crawford will still probably play the majority of minutes but I think Teague will be in the rotation out of necessity.

JW: Three. He may start, but there is no doubt that Larry Drew has shown that, while he may bench Josh Smith down the stretch due to performance, the "shotmakers" are untouchable, so Jamal and Joe will play the most minutes, limiting Teague to Royal Ivey status.


The most important factor in any chance of Atlanta upsetting Chicago is _____________.

KW: Al Horford. I could have easily said Joe Johnson or Jamal Crawford but I think Horford's play is important at both ends of the floor. I expect Al to be matches with Noah for a lot of the series and his perimeter game will be key in pulling Noah away from the basket. Also in the only Hawks victory against the Bulls this season, Al had a monster game.

JW: No doubt, it's perimeter defense. To realize the hope that I mentioned in the previous answer, that means Rose can't be shooting layups and free throws all night. They have to keep the dribble penetration in check. What happens is when the ballhandler gets the corner, then a big has to check down for help, leaving his shooter open for a kick out. When this occurs a lot, the bigs sag out of habit, breaking the defense down even before the play develops.


What result would be considered a seasonal success for the Hawks?

KW: Given the result of the season I would say a competitive series so 6 games. However if you look at the situation from the preseason then only a breakthrough to the conference finals could be termed a success.

JW: I believe that, given how many resources were poured into this season, even taking from next year (Jordan Crawford, the #31 pick, next year's #1) to make the most out of this year, getting dropped kicked again in the second round would feel like a failure. Win they must, tall as the task may be.


Does the result of this series impact Larry Drew's job status?

KW: I don't think so. I think he saved his job status in the first round. As long as Rick Sund is back I expect Drew will be back as well

JW: If it goes 2010 bad in the second round, we saw what happened to Woody. Embarrassment would be the only way Larry loses a chance for next season.


Prediction time: Step up, boys!

KW: This is the part I have been dreading. Bulls in seven in a much closer series than anyone anticipates.

Bulls in 7.

JW: I lack the clarity I had for the Orlando series. I knew they would win. In this series, I feel everything in my being, especially with Hinrich missing games, calling for a Bulls win. So, to be optimistic, I say that the Bulls win Games 1 and 2, Hinrich comes back for Game 3 and the Hawks win games 3 and 4, Chicago takes Game 5, and then the Hawks force a Game 7 before they finally succumb to the season and their own inherent inefficiencies.

Bulls in 7.