Preview: Hawks @ Bulls

Mike Muscala answers questions after practice (Jeremy Johnson).

The season-opening road trip concludes in the Windy City.

After an impressive opening night win in Dallas over the Mavericks, the Atlanta Hawks have had three straight road losses. Injuries, such as the ankle injury sustained by star point guard Dennis Schröder, have taken their toll on the young team as it has been difficult for head coach Mike Budenholzer to consistently string together effective lineups that can score the ball. Atlanta has shown elite athleticism with players who can get up and down the floor quickly; however, shooting has been somewhat of a setback for this offensively challenged squad.

Chicago still has yet to come away with a victory in the young season. Granted, they have played three very good teams: the Raptors, Spurs, and Cavaliers, and they brought the game down to the wire in two of those games. The Bulls are going through an identity crisis now as two key pieces, Bobby Portis and Nikola Mirotic, recently got into an altercation at practice that left Mirotic with a facial fracture and Portis with a suspension.

Matchup to Watch

John Collins vs Lauri Markkanen

While Collins likely won’t start regardless of whether Ersan Ilyasova is able to play, he should still see a lot of playing time in this game against Bulls lottery pick power forward Lauri Markkanen. These two young players have very different styles. Collins is a more versatile, athletic player who loves to attack the rim. Markkanen is the more skilled of the two and has shown a great outside shooting ability. It will be interesting to see how the two opposite playing styles will work against each other.

Injury Report


Belinelli: Probable

Ilyasova: Questionable

Bembry: Out

Plumlee: Out

Schröder: Out


Kris Dunn: Out

Nikola Mirotic: Out

Zach LaVine: Out

Cameron Payne: Out

3 Keys to the Game

1. Scoring Lineups

The Hawks will be without their best scorer (Schroder) on Thursday, just as they were against Miami on Monday. They could also be without their starting power forward, Ilyasova, and a sixth man, Belinelli, who has provided a scoring spark off the bench thus far. It will be vital for players like Kent Bazemore and Taurean Prince to increase their scoring to give the Hawks a chance in Chicago.

2. Transition Offense

Even with their injuries, the Hawks will still be the more athletic team in this game. Center Dewayne Dedmon will have to be versatile against the much slower Robin Lopez in order to provide scoring and second chances to this offense. Wings like Taurean Prince will have to rotate quickly on defense in order to stop sharpshooters like Markkanen from torching the Hawks from outside.

3. Turnovers

While the Hawks made a nice comeback in Miami on Monday, the thing that kept them from getting a win was turnovers. There were numerous lazy passes and instances of careless dribbling. There was even a backcourt violation off of an inbounds play. The Hawks need to cut down on turnovers but keep the same aggression they had during the second half of the Miami game.

Projected Starters:


Guard – Malcolm Delaney

Guard – Kent Bazemore

Forward – Taurean Prince

Forward – Mike Muscala

Center – Dewayne Dedmon


Guard – Jerian Grant

Guard – Justin Holiday

Forward – Paul Zipser

Forward – Lauri Markkanen

Center – Robin Lopez


TV: Fox Sports Southeast

Radio: 92.9 The Game

Next 3 Games

Oct. 27 vs Nuggets

Oct. 29 vs Bucks

Nov. 1 @ 76ers


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