Bulls Vs. Hawks Predictions: Chicago Looks To Move Forward; Does Atlanta Have Another Upset In Store?

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Bulls Vs. Hawks Predictions: Atlanta Big Men Not Enough To Counter Derrick Rose

Carlos Boozer has been, of late, much-maligned by pretty much everyone who's watched the Chicago Bulls begin their quest for an NBA Championship. The Bulls certainly need Boozer to play well to make it all the way, and the Atlanta Hawks' tandem of Al Horford and Josh Smith pose a serious challenge for Chicago, especially Boozer.

But Derrick Rose is something else, and unless Kirk Hinrich heals quickly, the Hawks are going to be left defending the presumptive MVP with a two-guard (Joe Johnson, Jamal Crawford) or Jeff Teague. Good luck.

Rose has been a champ at getting to the foul line here in the NBA Playoffs, and it's my guess that he'll continue the trend against Atlanta. Add in Luol Deng, a consistent force on both ends, and Joakim Noah, a sterling defender in his own right and an underrated passer, and Chicago is an imposing opponent. Atlanta struggled on offense much of the season, and Chicago has the best defense in the world. It'll take Jamal Crawford keeping up his hot stretch against a team he struggled against in the regular season to save Atlanta. Chicago in 5.

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Bulls Vs. Hawks Predictions: Loss Of Kirk Hinrich, Matchup Issues Doom Hawks

This Bulls vs. Hawks series might get ugly. I'm sensing a sweep might be possible.

The nice thing about the way the Hawks were built this year is that they were tailor made to take out the Orlando Magic, so long as they actually started Jason Collins as the Dwight Howard-stopper. In the last round, Atlanta wore down Howard using Collins and their surplus of anonymous centers, then exploited their huge matchup advantages all over the rest of the floor, particularly at the forward spots. That's why they won. 

The problem? The Chicago Bulls, with their surplus of better big men and the presence of Derrick Rose dancing around the defense, were also built to beat a team like the Magic. The difference is that the Bulls are much better, and therefore, I don't see this series being close.

The loss of Kirk Hinrich to injury stings, because he could at least do a decent job of sort of keeping Rose in front of him. Now, the task falls to Jeff Teague, who is young and inexperienced, or worse, Jamal Crawford, who doesn't play any defense. It'll be tempting for Larry Drew to put Crawford and Joe Johnson on the floor at the same time after Crawford's big series against the Magic, but the Hawks would be porous defensively with that lineup. The ideal situation would have been to play Johnson at small forward for long stretches with Hinrich (on Rose) and Crawford (hidden on whoever was out there at shooting guard), but Hinrich's injury probably ices that. This means that Atlanta will have to suffer a trade-off no matter how they structure their backcourt rotation. 

Up front, Atlanta won't see the same advantages they usually have when they trot out Josh Smith and Al Horford. Carlos Boozer's health struggles may actually be a blessing in disguise for the Bulls, because they'll need Taj Gibson's defense to lessen Smith's overall impact. Stopping Horford may be a bigger challenge, but with all the other matchup advantages on the perimeter, the Bulls will live with that.

Ultimately, this is a bounce-back series for the Bulls. Chicago's offense didn't fare well against Indiana, but the Hawks don't have the Pacers' depth inside. Chicago's defense should dominate a Hawks offense that was able to neutralize Howard's effect by posting up Smith and Horford against smaller guys. Atlanta won't be able to do that this series, and a good portion of their offense will go up in smokes. Bulls in 4.

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Bulls Vs. Hawks Predictions: There Will Be Blood, And It Will Be Atlanta's

The Atlanta Hawks surprised everyone with their first-round upset of the Orlando Magic, and for a franchise teetering on the brink of blowing things up, it had to be an encouraging step forward. The problem is, it's a step toward the Bulls.

It all comes down to a simple question: With Kirk Hinrich expected to miss the series with a hamstring injury, who guards Derrick Rose? Jamal Crawford? Jeff Teague? Joe Johnson? You might say they'll be playing matador defense. (HEY-O!) It's the worst case scenario for a Hawks team that would have been a massive underdog regardless.

Think about it this way--the Hawks haven't been great on offense all year, and the Bulls have the best defense in the NBA. Already, you're talking about an uphill battle. The Bulls' only weakness comes on offense, when they tend to get one-dimensional, and sometimes a little too dependent on Derrick Rose. But when Derrick Rose vs. Atlanta's point guards is the best matchup on the floor for either team, Chicago's only possible weakness becomes a strength, and... Well, Atlanta's in trouble.

The Pick: Chicago in 5.

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Bulls Vs. Hawks Predictions: Carlos Boozer Key To Chicago Waltz

By Matt B. of Blog a Bull, SB Nation's Chicago Bulls blog.

I hope the Bulls themselves are taking the series more seriously than the fans are. While the Bulls haven't been playing their best thus far in the playoffs, the series-clinching game against Indiana brought back some confidence, and the Hawks just seem like a particularly favorable matchup. They have fewer options than most to slow down Derrick Rose (especially in the wake of Kirk Hinrich's injury), and run a slowed-down isolation offense that should play right into the Bulls league-leading defense. I see the Bulls maybe slipping up in a game with a high amount of turnovers and the Hawks being able to run out to a lead and hold off a Bulls comeback, but not much else going wrong.

The Bulls certainly could've lost more than one game to Indiana, and for all the dogging I give the Hawks they're better than the Pacers. But Noah improved throughout round one, and there's a hope that there's no way Boozer can be as bad going forward. So Bulls in 5.

Be sure to check out our Bulls vs. Hawks hub for full series coverage. For more on the Bulls, visit Blog-a-Bull. For more on the Hawks, visit Peachtree Hoops.

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Bulls Vs. Hawks Predictions: Al Horford, Josh Smith Can Give Chicago Trouble

By Kris Willis of Peachtree Hoops, SB Nation's Atlanta Hawks blog.

The Hawks weren't supposed to survive the first round against the Orlando Magic and are even bigger underdogs in the second round against the Chicago Bulls, particularly now that Kirk Hinrich is unlikely to play in the series after injuring a hamstring against Orlando. A healthy dose of Derrick Rose and Atlanta without Hinrich has a lot of people pointing to a potential blowout and sweep for the Bulls in the series.

I'm not so sure though. While I will stop short of predicting an upset win for the Hawks, it would not surprise me to see them make this a series. The Bulls didn't exactly look like the No. 1 seed for much of their series against Indiana and even with Rose, I think Josh Smith and Al Horford can give the Bulls trouble against Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah. Horford has the perimeter game to help take Noah away from the basket while Smith has the athleticism to give Boozer fits inside. It is a long shot for the Hawks, but then again everything is at this point of the season.

Be sure to follow our Bulls vs. Hawks hub for full series coverage.

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Bulls Vs. Hawks Predictions: Chicago Looks To Move Forward; Does Atlanta Have Another Upset In Store?

The Chicago Bulls are ready to get back on the court with the Atlanta Hawks standing as a surprise second round opponent. Game 1 is Monday at 8 p.m.

In the run-up, SBNation.com's NBA editors and our excellent team bloggers will predict the outcome of the series. Stay tuned to this StoryStream. For our full Bulls vs. Hawks coverage, visit our series hub.

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