The Hawks (26-19) picked up a half game on the third place Bulls (28-18) on Friday after Chicago dropped a game to the Brooklyn Nets while playing without several key players. Joining injured point guard Derrick Rose on the sidelines Friday was Carlos Boozer (Hamstring), Joakim Noah (foot) and Kirk Hinrich (elbow). All three starters remain questionable to show up ready to play at Philips Arena on Saturday.
Chicago's injury situation should favor Atlanta considerably especially since the Hawks played their last game on Wednesday night. They rallied to beat the Toronto Raptors, 93-92. The Hawks will also have a bit of revenge on their minds when facing the Bulls.
The teams have split their first two meetings earlier this year, but the Bulls absolutely pounded the Hawks at the United Center in their last meeting. In the 97-58 win, the Bulls defense played more like the 1985 Chicago Bears, allowing only 20 first half points, including just five second-quarter points in the beat down.
If Boozer and Noah are unable to play, the Hawks' front court stars, Al Horford and Josh Smith, should be able to take advantage. The pair combine for over 32 points per game for the Hawks, but that number will have to increase if Atlanta hopes to send Chicago limping home with a loss. Hinrich's injury could also free up more time for Chicago's rookie Marquis Teague to face his brother Jeff Teague, Atlanta's backcourt leader.
The Hawks are listed as seven-point favorites heading into the game on Saturday with health and home court helping their cause. The game is scheduled to tip off at 7 p.m. ET from Philips Arena and will be televised in Chicago on WGN and in Atlanta on Fox Sports South.