Despite the fact that the Bulls recently had a winning streak snapped, they are still one of the best teams in the NBA. They are in a battle with the Boston Celtics for the top spot in the Eastern Conference, making this game against the Atlanta Hawks a must win for the Bulls.
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The Bulls could probably be excused for one slipshod effort in the second leg of back-to-back road games. After beating New Jersey on Thursday, the Bulls moved right along to play a rested Indiana squad. The Pacers scored 89 points in the first three quarters on Friday. Eleven of the Bulls’ previous 12 opponents hadn’t scored 90 points in the entire game.
The Bulls kept their hold on first place in the Eastern Conference because Boston lost in Houston on Friday. But coach Tom Thibodeau was not in a forgiving mood after the poor defensive performance. This team has been very successful this year due to the defensive play and Thibodeau wants to make sure his team realizes how important it is to play consistent defense.
Veteran guard Keith Bogans recently compared the Bulls to the Orlando team that reached the NBA Finals in 2009 before losing to the Lakers. Bogans spent a large chunk of that season with the Magic before being traded to Milwaukee. The Bulls are starting to believe that they can win the championship this year.
The Bulls are 20-6-2 ATS in their last 28 games vs. a team with a winning record and 19-7 ATS in their last 26 games overall. The Hawks are 2-8 ATS in their last 10 home games against a team with a winning road record and will lose to the Bulls, who regroup after a bad loss.
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