Most people didn't expect the Atlanta Hawks (16-7) to be so successful this season and that's why they're not being shown the respect by odds makers tonight against a Chicago Bulls (15-8) team with an inferior record.
Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET tonight at the Phillips Arena in Atlanta, Georgia. 5 Dimes Sportsbook currently lists Atlanta as a mere 1 point betting favorite and the total for the game is 201. Atlanta has had a spectacular start to the season, but this will be a tough matchup against the Bulls. Can the Hawks "protect home court" with a win tonight is the question?
Are We Seeing a Return of the Old Derrick Rose?
Everyone knows what Derrick Rose has had to go through the past couple of seasons. Some people think that he just doesn't want to play basketball anymore and others think that the Bulls should get rid of him. I happen to oppose both of these thoughts and even though the Bulls are going to get a lack of consistency out of Rose, they should continue to give him minutes as this is a player filled with talent that makes others around him better.
Rose hasn't been getting 35 minutes per game in fear of aggravating old injuries and his shooting isn't quite there, but for the season, he's averaging 17 points, 4.9 assists, and 3.1 rebounds per game. There are times in which we see the old Derrick Rose and that in itself is worth the Bulls sticking with this guy.
They have a very deep team. If one person goes down with an injury or is slumping, there are other players to pick up the slack. Jimmy Butler has been one of those players all season long. Butler leads the team at 20.8 points per game and it's guys like him and Taj Gibson which make the Bulls the real favorites in this game.
The Desire to Play For a Winner
It was assumed that Pau Gasol had a nice run for the Lakers, but it was time for a change as Los Angeles have fallen apart as an organization. Some people though that the decrease in Gasol's production was due to age, but as you see with Chicago, this isn't true at all. He's having one of the best seasons of his career at 19 points and 11.9 rebounds per game. Just like his presence in L.A. brought the Lakers 2 titles in his first 3 seasons, the Chicago Bulls are hoping the same will happen here as Gasol is clearly one of the best players in the league and there's no Atlanta Hawk on the defensive end that will be able to stop the Spaniard.
A Loss to the Magic
When you lose to teams that you should beat such as an Orlando Magic team which are young and trying to develop a chemistry, this is why I can't look at Atlanta as a title contender and I expect for them to simmer down as the season progresses; the NBA odds say it all.
Model Of Inconsistency
A top ranked team needs a superstar to "bring it" every single game and this is the biggest weakness concerning Jeff Teague's game.
One game, he'll give the Hawks 30 and the next game, he'll score 4. A team needs to rely on a good player on a game to game basis. That said, Teague still produces for the most part at 17 points and 7 assists per game and he'll need one of his "30 point performances" against a very tough Chicago Bulls team.
Atlanta is only allowing 97.4 points per game and have a solid plus/minus ratio where points are concerned. This game should be close. Atlanta is very good at home, but the Bulls somehow excel on the road.
Free NBA Pick: Chicago +1