Mar 28, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bulls guard Jimmy Butler (21) shoots against Atlanta Hawks guard Tim Hardaway Jr. (10) during the second half at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports
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The Chicago Bulls look to bounce back on Thursday night in their final preseason contest against the Atlanta Hawks. Let’s take a look what to watch for in Omaha.
With the NBA preseason winding down to the final games, the Chicago Bulls and Atlanta Hawks have one interesting game left to play.
Yes, Dwight Howard will be in town sporting yet another team’s uniform. And yes, Michael Carter-Williams will be in attendance (and not wearing #1, by the way).
But more specifically, I’m talking about the intriguing matchup of Kyle Korver vs. Doug McDermott.
Because they’re both from Creighton University, the home site for tonight’s matchup.
The preseason schedule is great, simply because it allows NBA teams to showcase and market themselves in other locations you wouldn’t typically see an NBA team play in. In this situation it’s Omaha, Nebraska.
With that said, there’s an actual game tonight and not just the McDermott/Korver show. Let’s take a look at the Atlanta Hawks.
Oct 18, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Hawks center Dwight Howard (8) makes a move against New Orleans Pelicans center Omer Asik (3) and guard Tim Frazier (2) in the second quarter of their game at Philips Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports
Tonight’s Opponent: The Atlanta Hawks and Lineups
The Hawks enter play today with a preseason record of 4-2. Expect both head coaches, Fred Hoiberg and Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer to use this as a final tune-up heading into the 2016-17 NBA season.
The Hawks lost two major pieces from their starting lineup last season with former center Al Horford, who left in free agency to the Boston Celtics and former point guard Jeff Teague, who was traded to the Indiana Pacers.
Only Kyle Korver and Paul Millsap remain from the starting lineup that accomplished a 60-win season two seasons ago.
The best player on Hawks roster is still Millsap, and most definitely one of the better all-around players in the NBA. You know what you’re going to get from Millsap, but the biggest question will be how the dynamic will be with Howard over Horford.
Howard’s return to the Eastern Conference is a wise decision for the big man, looking for a fresh start after a roller-coaster run in the Western Conference. Howard, an eight-time All-star while representing the East, is still a dominant center defensively when he wants to be.
With that said, here is the anticipated starting lineups for tonight’s matchup:
Oct 8, 2016; Madison, WI, USA; Dallas Mavericks guard C.J. Williams (21) attempts a steal from Milwaukee Bucks guard Michael Carter-Williams (5) at the Kohl Center. Milwaukee defeated Dallas 88-74. Mandatory Credit: Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports
Welcome to Chicago, MCW!
Michael Carter-Williams will be in uniform and likely ready to go for the Bulls Thursday night. Fresh off a trade that sent former G/F Tony Snell to the Milwaukee Bucks, Carter-Williams said he was not anticipating any sort of trade.
Nonetheless, he seems happy to be in Chicago.
“I was also shocked and I didn’t know the trade was going to happen, but I think it’s a great situation for me,” Carter-Williams said. “I’m happy here and the guys are great and the staff seems really cool and I think I can help this team. I think I can learn from some of the older guys we have here.”
Carter-Williams will fill a void of backup point guard for the Bulls. He’s a two-way player, mostly brought in for his defense, but on offense expected to be a slasher who can spread the ball around.
“I think I’m a defensive guy,” Carter-Williams said about his game. “I think I’m pretty good at pressuring the ball, forcing turnovers. Offensively, getting in the lane, getting rebounds and pushing the ball up the floor and finding my teammates. I’ve had some ups and some downs. Every time I go out there. I try to play as hard as I can and that’s all I can really ask from myself. Just to put in the work so I can be successful on the court.”
Apr 9, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bulls forward Doug McDermott (3) saves a ball from going out of bounds during the first half against the Cleveland Cavaliers at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
McDermott vs. Korver
Doug McDermott hasn’t played his final game in Omaha after all. The former Creighton star, who was just a student-athlete two years ago, will battle against fellow Creighton alum Kyle Korver.
Getting the Bulls to play in Omaha has been in the works since McDermott was drafted in the first round of the 2014 NBA Draft. According to the Omaha World-Herald, a spokeswoman for CenturyLink Center (the site of tonight’s’ contest) Kristi Anderson said representatives from Omaha’s Metropolitan Entertainment and Convention Authority met with Bulls officials within days of that draft, but the Bulls were already negotiating to play a game at Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln, which it did last year.
“We were confident that we would get another one, and we have,” Anderson said. “Not only will we have Doug McDermott on his own college court, but to have him playing Kyle Korver and the Hawks is a storybook (scenario). We’re excited.”
While at Creighton, McDermott was a star. In 2014, he earned the AP National Player of the Year Award as a senior, along with setting multiple school records and finishing No. 5 on the NCAA’s all-time scoring chart (3,150 points).
Korver was a skilled shooter and All-American for Creighton in his senior year in 2003. Korver finished his career at Creighton fourth all-time in scoring (1,801) and first in 3-pointers made with 371 (sixth-most in NCAA history). An NBA All-Star in 2015, Korver averaged 9.2 points per game last season for the Hawks, who reached the Eastern Conference semifinals.
A battle of the two Creighton stars will surely be a hit for the locals. I’m assuming at some point during the day, the two will be matched up against each other. Even though the two have a lot of similarities, Korver is more a three point specialist while McDermott is quickly becoming a threat from all-over the floor and not just from beyond the arc.