#5 Atlanta Hawks vs. #1 Chicago Bulls Series Preview and Pick

The Eastern Conference Semifinals tie between the Chicago Bulls and the Atlanta Hawks is expected to be a lopsided one, as these two teams are expected to be able to share the same court together. But will the Hawks be able to fly high and pull off another unexpected NBA betting upset? Our NBA playoffs picks await.

#5 Atlanta Hawks (48-40 SU, 42-46-0 ATS)
#5 Atlanta Hawks vs. #1 Chicago Bulls Series Preview and PickHow They Got Here: Last season, the Hawks had a solid team and were absolutely blown to bits at this juncture of the playoffs by the Orlando Magic. They were outscored by 111 points in the series and never had a chance of even staying in any of the four games. This year, with a team that had a worse record and a worse seeding, Atlanta came back and took four of the six games against the Magic to make it into the second round of the playoffs once again, where it hopes that it will have better luck than it has in recent years at this point.

Player to Watch: Jamal Crawford was the little sparkplug off of the bench for Head Coach Larry Drew in the first round of the playoffs, and he’s going to have to do the exact same thing in this series if Atlanta has any chance whatsoever. Crawford scored at least 23 points in the first four first round games against the Magic, and he will likely be matched up against Derrick Rose quite a bit in this series. We know that Chicago is going to hold the low post advantage against the Hawks, but Johnson could lead the team to a startling upset if he can knock down shots from the outside on a regular basis.

The Hawks Can Win This Series If…: They didn’t blow everything that they had against Orlando. We tend to doubt it, though. They say that you have to give everything you’ve got to exorcize your past demons, and we tend to believe that that is the exact problem that Atlanta is going to run into in this series with a relatively short turnaround against a team as big and as physical as Chicago is.

#1 Chicago Bulls (62-25 SU, 42-44-1 ATS)
#5 Atlanta Hawks vs. #1 Chicago Bulls Series Preview and PickHow They Got Here: It wasn’t the prettiest of series in the world, but the Bulls only needed five games to dismiss the Indiana Pacers from the second season. Chicago has brought a tremendous level of toughness to the table all season long, and that’s why it had the best record in the league this year. Head Coach Tom Thibodeau is likely to win NBA Coach of the Year honors, while Derrick Rose is likely to be named the league’s MVP.

Player to Watch: Carlos Boozer really didn’t play all that well against Indiana for the most part, something that was incredibly surprising knowing that the Pacers really didn’t have the bigs to match up with him and the rest of his mates. He didn’t exceed more than 17 points in a game in the first round, and to make matters worse, he only scored two points in just 15 minutes in Game 5 before feeling a pop in his toe and leaving the game. Boozer has turf toe, and he isn’t expected to miss any time, but if he really isn’t at 100%, this could be a bit more of a struggle than the Bulls bargained for.

The Bulls Can Win This Series If…: They jump out to early leads in this series. We’ve seen this time and time again out of the Hawks. If they get behind early in a game, they tend to fall apart and just lose the will to play, and the end result is often times a bad defeat. Atlanta jumped out to the early lead against the Magic five times in that first round series, and it won four of those games. The one game it fell behind early in, it was absolutely blown out of the water.

Analyzing the NBA Series Odds: We know that the Bulls are the significantly better team in this series, and we definitely believe that the final series score line will tell us a much. The Hawks might be able to steal a game in the Peach State, but they aren’t going to do any more than that when this series is said and done. Chicago should flex its muscles as long as Boozer is healthy. Bulls in 5

Adam Markowitz

is a staff writer living in the Orlando area. He has covered NFL, MLB, college football, CFL, AFL, NBA, college basketball, NASCAR, golf, tennis, and the NHL for a number of various outlets in his career, and he has been published by a number of different media outlets, including the Orlando Sentinel and the Wall Street Journal.