ATLANTA, GA — Chicago Bulls (7-1) at Atlanta Hawks (5-3)
Location: Philips Arena, Altana, GA
Time: 6:00pm CST/7:00 EST
TV: Comcast SportsNet Chicago
Radio: ESPN 1000
Announcers: Neil Funk, Stacey King
Line: Bulls by 4.5
Injury Report/Inactives: CHICAGO — PG C.J. Watson (Elbow, OUT), SG Ricard Hamilton (Hamstring, Day-to-Day)
ATLANTA — SG Tracy McGrady (Day-to-Day)
Key Matchup: Rip Hamilton/Ronnie Brewer vs. Joe Johnson
Last Game: Bulls beat Magic 97-83, Hawks beat Bobcats 102-96 in OT
Last Meeting: January 3, 2012 — Bulls 76, Hawks 74
Series History (Since 2002-03): Bulls lead series 20-14 (24-16 incl. postseason)
Last Minute Preview: Both of these teams are turning around after Friday games to play Saturday but the Bulls have the advantage of only having played Friday. The Hawks will make Saturday their third straight game in as many days. Chicago will watch the effects closely as Monday marks the start of their three game stretch. But when speaking about Saturday’s game, it’s a chance for revenge for Atlanta.
The two teams met Tuesday night and the Bulls won a game that came down to the wire. Atlanta played the Bulls tough and both teams will study that game to see what the formula to history is. Neither team figured it out on Tuesday as the game could have easily gone either way at the end. Derrick Rose didn’t make the game winning shot in that game and he’ll enter Saturday’s matchup licking wounds he suffered in Chicago’s game in Detroit.
Rose’s injury shouldn’t be an issue at all but it will be interesting to see how the Hawks play him. He’s not at 100 percent yet and his elbow will be the target of some unseen action.
Chicago and Atlanta will meet twice more after Saturday but this game is going to be the second straight tough test for the Bulls in a row. They managed to skate by the Magic but that wasn’t an easy task at times. One of the big reasons the Bulls had to win at the wire was because they trailed most of the game by double digits. They can’t afford to have that happen again because you have to believe Atlanta won’t let it happen twice.
The key to success is get off to a much faster start then Tuesday’s game and maintain distance between themselves and the Hawks. Chicago is 7-1 but the Hawks are the kind of team and Saturday is the kind of game that can change that.
Prediction: Bulls 87, Hawks 85