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Chicago Bulls (20-15) V. Atlanta Hawks (21-15) Preview: Birds of Pray

January 14th, 2013 at 11:15 AM
By Caleb Nordgren

If you're scoring at home, you might have noticed that the Chicago Bulls have beaten the New York Knicks three times. In each case, they followed a win against the Knicks with a loss.

They have also beaten the Knicks twice at Madison Square Garden this year. In the first instance, this was followed by one blowout loss the next day and another one after some time off.

Let us hope the pattern does not hold this time.

The Bulls have only seen the Atlanta Hawks once this year. That was actually the blowout loss immediately following the first Knicks road win, when the Bulls went to Atlanta and got spanked by the Hawks, 92-75. 

The Hawks are definitely a solid team. Led by Josh Smith and Al Horford inside, they're one of the few teams in the East that can reasonably expect to match the Bulls in terms of size. They also have better guards and a better bench. That spells trouble, especially considering that the Bulls have struggled at home this year.

This matchup features a pair of intriguing individual matchups. Horford and Joakim Noah were college teammates and back-to-back National Champions at Florida and always seem to relish going against each other. Horford tends to get the best of Noah, so we'll see if that changes.

The other interesting part of this game is that Jeff and Marquis Teague get to face each other. Marquis may not play much, but that the two of them get to go at it like that is still cool.

Key Matchup: Al Horford v. Joakim Noah

Aside from their being former teammates, they are probably also their respective team's most important players, at least offensively. If Noah's off his game, it's really hard for the Bulls to score. He'll need to step up for the Bulls to have a shot.

Tags: Al Horford, Atlanta Hawks, Chicago, Chicago Bulls, Joakim Noah, Marquis Teague, NBA, New York Knicks

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