To kick off our breakdowns of the Bulls and Hawks and how they match up positionally, we begin with the big men in the middle: the centers.
The matchup: Joakim Noah (CHI) vs. Jason Collins/Zaza Pachulia (ATL)
The initial favorite is Noah simply based on his name and his notability. But the question is does he really stack up against the Hawks Collins?
The answer is clearly yes. Noah most likely would have been an All-Star had it not been for his thumb injury which caused him to miss almost 10 weeks of basketball. He’s really the number two guy in Chicago if not in terms of talent then in terms of energy and swagger.
Just as Rose is able to, Noah can not only energize his teammates, but he has the ability to electrify an entire building by simply screaming like a warrior. He can also electrify an opposing arena by simply aging hard nosed basketball.
Atlanta would be lucky to get a large whimper from the fans when Collins or Pachulia are on the court and they don’t score. And when they do score, fans are erupting over the points alone as where when Noah scores, he transfers his energy to everyone around him as well as the bonus of him scoring.
He even does it when he doesn’t score.
Noah absolutely dominates the stat war against both Collins and Pachulia as well. In three games against the Hawks this year, Noah averaged 10.0 rpg compared to Collins averaging 0.3 and Pachulia’s 2.7.
That right there tells you all you need to know about this matchup.
The only place Atlanta has the advantage is Collins two inch height advantage at 7’0″ over Noah’s 6’11″. Hardly a deciding factor. The Hawks centers averaged 4.3 and 1.0 ppg against the Bulls while Noah averaged 7.0 in the three games.
Chicago has the clear advantage in this matchup with Zaza Pachulia actually being the better option for the Hawks when they matchup against the Bulls. But despite his marginally better numbers than Collins when playing Chicago, Atlanta’s centers don’t score and they don’t rebound against Chicago. Noah wins this matchup by a mile and a half.
Plus the Bulls have Kurt Thomas and Omer Asik to sub in for Noah when he needs rest or is in foul trouble. That alone gives them an advantage.
Edge: Chicago Bulls