Kevin C. Cox
One of the most dominant teams in the league at home over the past few years, the Bulls are just .500 at the United Center nearly halfway through this season. Can they end that trend against the struggling Hawks?
With rousing sellout crowds backing them, the Chicago Bulls have been one of the most dominant teams in the league at home since Tom Thibodeau's arrival. Take a look at the Bulls' games at the United Center of late, though, and you'd notice that the big crowds and shirt cannons are still around. The wins? Not so much.
Luckily for Thibodeau's squad, a reeling Atlanta Hawks squad is coming to town on Monday night, seemingly giving the Bulls a perfect opportunity to regain their missing home court mojo. The bad news, and of course there's bad news, is that one could've said the same thing last week when the Milwaukee Bucks and Phoenix Suns visited the Windy City.
Having lost six of their past eight games, most of which came on the road, one certainly can't doubt the Hawks' vulnerability at the moment. Atlanta has lost five of its past six games away from home, including double-digit losses to struggling teams like the Cleveland Cavaliers and Washington Wizards.
Those struggling teams from Cleveland and D.C. are the only ones that Chicago has beaten at home since a Dec. 18 win over the Boston Celtics, though. Since a Christmas Day blowout at the hands of the Houston Rockets, the Bulls have looked noticeably flat at the UC, a trend that needs to end going into the second half of the season.
Monday's game begins at 8 p.m. ET, and it's being broadcast on NBATV.
Korver, Hinrich to face former teams
While they don't play the same position, the Bulls and Hawks essentially swapped starters last offseason when Chicago agreed to sign guard Kirk Hinrich to a two-year deal before dealing shooting master Kyle Korver to Atlanta. Last season, Hinrich was a part-time starter for the Hawks while Korver was part of the "Bench Mob," in Chicago; this season, they've swapped spots on fringe contenders in the East.
Hinrich has had mixed results in his return to Chicago, averaging 6.6 points per game and 5.5 assists per game as the Bulls' lead point guard. He's struggled badly with his shot all season, making just 35 percent of his shots from the field and 69 percent of attempts from the charity stripe. Korver has fared much better, averaging 10.3 points per game and 3.8 rebounds per game while shooting 43 percent from the field and 44 percent from three-point range.