The Chicago Bulls take on the Atlanta Hawks in what could be a preview of the Eastern Conference finals on Saturday night. While Washington, Toronto, and Atlanta are currently ahead of the Bulls in the standings, Chicago’s veteran leadership and overall talent make them an undeniable contender in the Eastern Conference. Forward Pau Gasol has been showing shades of 2007. The All-Star forward has been scoring nearly 19 points per game and grabbing more than 11 rebounds.
The Atlanta Hawks come to the United Center as the surprise team of the NBA. They hold the best record in the Eastern Conference, and have been doing so by playing a brand of team basketball that shies away from the “big-3” concept that so many have employed recently. As a team, they are seventh in the NBA in points per game with 103.1, but no player on the roster scores more than 17.5 points per game. In an era driven by big stars, Atlanta has been producing by going against the grain and playing team basketball.
Chicago has been an elite defensive team ever since Tom Thibodeau took the reigns, however, former NBA defensive player of the year Joakim Noah will be out with an ankle injury suffered on Wednesday Night against the Washington Wizards. This could be a major factor in their matchup against Atlanta who has extremely effective big men.
According to TiqIQ, the average price for Hawks vs. Bulls tickets is $199.26 on the secondary market. Tickets are going for a minimum price of $64.00, while downtown Chicago parking is $20. Atlanta fans heading to Chicago for the weekend can find Navy Pier parking near many tourist attractions when not at the United Center for the game. Prices for this game are hovering around the January average of $203.59, which is surprising given the playoff implications that this matchup has. Prices have decreased by five percent in the past seven days.
The loss of Noah could really hurt this Bulls squad against Atlanta. Al Horford and Paul Millsap are two extremely talented and versatile bigs that can attack from any point on the floor. Without the rim protection of Noah, you can expect Atlanta’s twin towers to dictate inside.
Both squads play Eastern Conference opponents on Friday night before their showdown on Saturday. The last meeting between these squads resulted in a 93-86 victory for the Hawks. Horford was able to drop 21 points, which gave Atlanta their tenth win in eleven games. If the Bulls allow Horford to have that kind of production once again, they could be in trouble.