Jan 17, 2017; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bulls forward Jimmy Butler (21) makes a three point shot while defended by Dallas Mavericks guard Wesley Matthews (23) during the fourth quarter of the game at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Caylor Arnold-USA TODAY Sports
The Chicago Bulls are bad. We know that. The Atlanta Hawks — despite trading away Bulls Legend Kyle Korver — are not. Oh, and the Bulls have lost seven of the last eight times they’ve faced Atlanta. Having said that, here’s Friday night’s preview!
The last time the Chicago Bulls beat the Atlanta Hawks in Atlanta, Joakim Noah was an MVP candidate and a member of the organization in April 2014.
Man, those were the days, right?
Since then, Noah’s game and health fell off in Chicago (along with Derrick Rose), and now plays with the Knicks. Oh, and the Bulls are eighth in the East standings and going nowhere in the present day, despite the valiant efforts of Jimmy Butler.
The Hawks have dominated the Bulls in the last seven meetings, winning six of them. After losing and getting swept this season by the Dallas Mavericks (yikes, that’s bad), the Bulls head to Atlanta to face the Hawks, who are as hot as any team in the league at the current juncture.
Here’s Friday’s preview for the Bulls’ second meeting with the Hawks this season.
Jan 4, 2017; Orlando, FL, USA; Atlanta Hawks forward Paul Millsap (4) drives to the basket as Orlando Magic center Bismack Biyombo (11) defends during the second half at Amway Center. Atlanta Hawks defeated the Orlando Magic 111-92. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Player to watch for Atlanta: Paul Millsap
You may not watch the Hawks play that much, which means you probably don’t see Paul Millsap play at all.
That’s a shame. He’s awesome.
This season, Millsap is one of just seven players to be averaging 17+ points, 8+ rebounds, 3+ assists and at least one steal per game. The other six guys: Russell Westbrook, Giannis Antetokounmpo, James Harden, DeMarcus Cousins, Kevin Durant and the injured Blake Griffin.
That’s a fantastic list of players.
Dennis Schroder gets the attention on the floor as the primary ball-handler these days after Jeff Teague was sent to his hometown of Indianapolis to join the Pacers in the offseason, but Millsap is the best player on the Hawks roster. That’s why so many teams were linked to him after the Korver deal. He’s a valuable player on both ends of the floor.
Player to watch for the Bulls: Dwyane Wade
It’s no secret that Dwyane Wade‘s game has been plummeting since his hot start to his first season in Chicago.
I have the preview for Bulls-Hawks tomorrow night and I'm looking at Dwyane Wade's numbers by month.
“We’ll see, but today was a good day,” Bulls forward Taj Gibson said to reporters on Thursday after practice about his status for Friday’s game. Gibson didn’t play in the Dallas game due to a sore ankle. It was the same ankle he had surgery on two summers ago.
Once again, the Hawks have beaten the Bulls six of the last seven times they’ve taken the floor against one another.
I don’t think the trend ends on Friday.
The Hawks have lost just twice since Dec. 28 and sitting among the top four teams in the Eastern Conference, despite trading Kyle Korver away to the East’s best team. They current sit two games behind Boston for third and four games behind Toronto for second in the East.
Nothing about the Bulls right now says they win, other than they’ve beaten some good teams this season. (They’ve also been swept by the Dallas Mavericks, so there’s that, too.)