Scouting Report: Chicago Bulls

Tuesday, April 1, 2014
By Robby Kalland

Chicago Bulls v Atlanta Hawks

The Hawks (32-41) snapped a six-game losing streak Monday night with a win over the Sixers and will face a much tougher test on Wednesday night when the Bulls (42-32) come to Atlanta. Chicago is looking to sweep the season-series with the Hawks, winning the first three games by an average margin of 8.7 points.

In the first three matchups, the Bulls have scored 99.3 points per game (6.2 points higher than their season average) while still playing stingy defense, allowing the Hawks to score just 90.6 points per game. Joakim Noah has led the charge for the Bulls all season, and against the Hawks, Noah is averaging 16.3 points, 13.3 rebounds, 5.3 assists, and 2.7 blocks. Noah’s activity around the rim has caused problems for the Hawks — and most teams in the league — and he’s been able to be effective and efficient on the offensive end, shooting 57.1% for those 16.3 points — well above his 12.5 points per game average on 48.2% shooting for the season.

Along with Noah, Taj Gibson has been a force in the first three meetings with the Hawks. Gibson is also averaging a double-double with 16.0 points and 10.7 rebounds per game against Atlanta. Gibson and Noah have taken advantage of the Hawks smaller frontcourt on the glass helping the Bulls hold a rebounding advantage of 57.3 to 37.7 (17.3 to 11.0 offensive) on average over the three games against the Hawks.

For the Hawks to get a win on Wednesday, controlling the Bulls on the glass and keeping that rebounding margin — particularly on the offensive end — close will be a big key. With Paul Millsap, Pero Antic, and Elton Brand all healthy again, and with DeMarre Carroll and Kyle Korver both back on the wings — the Hawks two best rebounding perimeter players — the Hawks will have their best personnel available to get on the glass.

On offense, the Hawks have struggled — as most teams do — against Chicago’s tight defense. Millsap has been frustrated by the Bulls defense into just 15.5 points and seven rebounds per game — both below his average — and he’s been held to just 33.3% shooting against Chicago. Millsap is coming off a monster performance against the Sixers, so his confidence should be high, and the Hawks will need him to play at a similarly high level against the Bulls.

The Hawks’ biggest advantage against the Bulls is at point guard where Jeff Teague has been very successful against DJ Augustin and former teammate Kirk Hinrich. Teague is averaging 18 points per game against Chicago on 51.1% shooting, both above his season averages. If he can continue to be aggressive and not only find his own shot but create for others, that will be a big boost for the Hawks offense that has otherwise struggled against the Bulls.

Photo by Scott Cunningham/NBAE/Getty Images

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