The Bulls and Hawks will get together on Friday in a game featuring two guards that are budding superstars in the league. Zach LaVine has become one of the most impressive scorers in the entire NBA, while Trae Young is still fighting to earn the respect that he should probably have by now. If the postseason began today, Atlanta would automatically qualify, while the Bulls would be in the play-in tourney.
LaVine’s backcourt mate Coby White has significantly regressed in year two, which has been extremely surprising. As a matter of fact, White and also Lauri Markkanen are coming off the bench for the time being. Veterans Tomas Satoransky and Thad Young occupy the starting spots, as they fit the scheme that they are running a little better. It can’t be good for the confidence, though.
Atlanta made a coaching change after opening the year 14-20. How did they respond to that? They won the first eight games coached by Nate McMillan, leading to a coach of the month award for the veteran leader. Who could have seen that coming? He has done a great job, and moving Bogdan Bogdanovic into the starting lineup has helped to maximize his potential here.
Odds: The spread is currently favoring the home team, ATL -3. The over/under is set at 228.5 points.
Bulls Seek Road Win
It is hard to say exactly what Chicago’s expectations for the year are, but 21-28 is probably not where they envisioned themselves. The shocking acquisition of 2X All-Star center Nikola Vucevic was supposed to turn them into an instant winner. But in the few weeks he has been here; things have not been all that smooth. That isn’t to say there are issues, but things are taking time.
Rookie Patrick Williams is continuing to perform well, and the team looks very smart for taking him at #4. He isn’t on track to become the next Jaylen Brown, but that pick is very reminiscent of what Boston did. Nobody had Jaylen Brown on their big boards, and yet he was taken off the board at #3. Similar stories.
Look for Zach LaVine to try and take over this game pretty early on.
Hawks Seek Win No. 28
A huge pro of being in the East is that you don’t need to win as often to be a higher seed. The downside of that same point is that so many teams are bunched up, and every single game is carrying a lot more weight. Miami and Charlotte on right there with Atlanta, trying to secure home court for the first round.
Trae Young is continuing to play well, and he seems to be back at full strength. He and Bogdanovic form a nice backcourt while the team deals with a litany of injuries. John Collins isn’t playing this week while they continue to monitor Clint Capela’s heal. On the bright side, #6 pick Onyeka Okongwu put up a nice double-double in the loss to Memphis.
Danilo Gallinari continues to shine in a bench role, while “Lemon Pepper” Lou Williams grows more comfortable running the show when Trae is out.
Hawks Win at Home
Short-handed or not, the Hawks will get it done. Chicago is a better team than they were before, but it won’t lift them today.
FREE PLAY: HAWKS -3
OVER/UNDER: OVER 228.5
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