Eastern Conference Semifinals preview: Bulls vs. Hawks
It's not as if Kirk Hinrich was about to become the Derrick Rose stopper.
But the Atlanta point guard had a better chance of slowing Chicago's likely MVP than any of his Hawks brethren, as his resume has always included the part about being a strong perimeter defender. Then came Friday's MRI results, with Hinrich being deemed "questionable" for the series because of a significant strain to his right hamstring. Enter Jeff Teague, the second-year player who logged a total of nine minutes in Atlanta's first-round series victory over Orlando.
Nothing like going for the head of the snake with a butter knife.
A series that already looked like a long shot for the Hawks is looking even more daunting now, as the rested Rose should be able to roam free and the Bulls will look to continue their impressive run. Including the five-game series win over Indiana, Chicago has won 32 of its last 37 games. By comparison, the Hawks -- who were certainly impressive in ousting Orlando in six games in their first-round matchup -- found flight at the right time after losing 20 of their final 31 regular season games.
The Bulls might be sending the Pacers a thank-you gift by the time this series is over, as their feisty, fiery ways were the perfect primer for what the Hawks will bring. Atlanta has ramped up its defense significantly in the postseason thus far, but Chicago should be able to counter with its own defensive prowess while showcasing D-Rose on the other end. The Bulls will find a new gear and the Hawks will find themselves heading home.