It is very difficult to gauge the Chicago Bulls and maybe that is why they have had a splendid season. Normally opponents have a sincere game plan, but against the Bulls it is ever-changing because of the multitude of individuals who can step up along with Derrick Rose every game.
This is a tremendous advantage and at the same time downfall for the team with the best regular-season record and home-court advantage throughout the playoffs.
Will it be Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer, Taj Gibson, Kyle Korver or Keith Bogans? They have all had good games, but I am sure Rose wonders who will take some pressure off of him against a high-flying team such as the Atlanta Hawks.
The Pacers played the Bulls to a standstill for four quarters of every game except the last. The Hawks are the Pacers three years from now and that is why Chicago will have to show more offensive consistency.
Atlanta is long and presents a myriad of problems on the perimeter with Joe Johnson, Josh Smith, Al Horford, Marvin Williams and the best scoring sixth man in basketball Jamal Crawford.
Boozer, Joakim Noah and Gibson will be stretched away from the basket, which leaves Johnson to quite possibly have a huge series against undersized defenders.
Rose will have to deal with some tremendous shot blockers and it's important he's not worn down by series end because it will be a long one. I expect Tom Thibodeau to flirt with maybe hiding Rose on Marvin Williams at times so he will not get tired down chasing Crawford off screens.
The one negative for the Hawks will be the health of Kirk Hinrich. If he is not able to go, then I expect Williams to get a lot of minutes trying to contain Human Twister Rose.
This is a scary series for the Bulls. The Magic were a better matchup.
The Bulls will win if...
- Derrick Rose not only scores 25-plus points, but averages 7 assists.
- Carlos Boozer is healthy and averages a double–double.
- Defensively the Bulls force the Hawks into one-on-one selfish play.
The Hawks will win if...
- They move bodies and the ball offensively against the best defensive team.
- Joe Johnson has a tremendous all-around series.
- Keep Derrick Rose out of the paint, which seems impossible.
- I honestly think the Atlanta Hawks can win this series, but I will go with the unstoppable force (Rose) and home-court advantage. Chicago 4, Atlanta 3.
SCHEDULE: May 2, May 4, May 6, May 8, May 10, May 12 and May 15 / Chicago won the regular season series 2-1.