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Well it sounds like Carlos Boozer is going to be able to give it a go, although it’s possible he could be coming off the bench. How effective he will be remains to be seen, and it sounds like he’s really hurting, but it’s the playoffs and he’s going to try to give it a go. On the other sideline, Kirk Hinrich is officially out for Atlanta and will probably miss the entire series.

I think the Hinrich injury is an absolutely huge blow for Atlanta. In his absence you would figure Jamal Crawford, Jeff Teague, and even Joe Johnson would split the point guard minutes. None of those guys have a prayer at stopping Derrick. They will have to use a team effort to stop Derrick, but I still figure they will struggle with that. And if they over commit to trying to stop him, Derrick has proven to us that he has no problem deferring to his teammates for the good of the team. Atlanta is not as physical as Indiana (and the Pacers didn’t really stop him either). They don’t have physical guards like Dahanty Jones and Paul George and they don’t have a bunch of big men that are comfortable knocking him down like Foster, McRoberts, and Hansborough were. I could see Pachulia committing a few flagrant fouls, but other than that, I’m not expecting to see Derrick on the floor too much. I don’t think he will take anywhere near the pounding that he took in the first round.

I think our defense will be great in this series. Atlanta plays right into their hands defensively. They take a lot of bad shots. Without Kirk running the offense, they could be taking even more bad shots. They love the drive and kick and our perimeter defense is a real strength. The only matchup that worries me is Al Horford vs. whoever. Horford is going to get his points. But as long as we keep him from completely going off like he did in the first head-to-head game this year, we should be fine. Joe Johnson will get his points, but I don’t see him taking over the game. I really think Atlanta is going to have a hard time scoring against us.

I’d love to see the Bulls jump all over Atlanta early. Stan Van Gundy hinted after the series that Hawks are kind of front runners. When they’re in the lead or right in the game they play with a different level of intensity than when they get down early. It kind of looked like that when they got destroyed by Orlando in Game 5. The Bulls had big leads against Atlanta all 3 games this year, however in the first matchup the Hawks did come back and win the game, so I’m not sure how much validity there is to what Van Gundy said, but I would love to see us push Atlanta early and see how they respond. The last thing you want to do is come out flat early and give the opposing team all the confidence in the world that they can play with you like we saw from the Pacers. My hope is that we will start fast, I think we got the playoff jitters out of the way, and like one of our followers posted on our facebook page, perhaps we owe Indiana a thank you for teaching us just how we have to bring it every night in the postseason.

Stat of the Day:

In 3 games vs. Atlanta, Derrick Rose averaged 25.3 points and had a total of only 10 turnovers

Probable Atlanta Starters:

G – Jamal Crawford, 20.5 PPG

G – Joe Johnson, 18.0 PPG

F – Josh Smith, 14.3 PPG

F – Al Horford, 12.0 PPG

C – Jason Collins, 1.3 PPG

Probable Chicago Starters:

G – Derrick Rose, 27.6 PPG

G – Keith Bogans, 5.4 PPG

F – Luol Deng, 18.6 PPG

F – Carlos Boozer, 10.0 PPG

C – Joakim Noah, 12.0 PPG

Prediction:

Current Line: Chicago (-8.5), Over/Under 179

No Hinrich = No chance for Atlanta to stop Derrick. I think the Hawks will struggle offensively to score on the Bulls. Horford will get his, but after that they won’t have many scoring options. The Bulls were taught in round 1 how hard they have to go every minute in the postseason and the playoff jitters should be gone. Bulls win comfortably in game 1 and send a clear message to Atlanta in the process.

Bulls 94 Hawks 79