NBA is back! Hawks Opening Night Preview

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The last game the Hawks played was a March 11th overtime home loss to the New York Knicks. It’s been over nine months since we’ve seen Atlanta play a meaningful basketball game. We have done tons of preview content here about the NBA Draft, free agency, and all you need to know about the upcoming Hawks season. Everyone seems to be pretty high about this team’s potential, given the additions they made to the roster during the offseason.

This opening night matchup in Chicago is the first step in realizing that playoff goal. 

Atlanta Hawks (0-0) vs. Chicago Bulls (0-0)

  • When: Wednesday 12/23 at 8pm/et
  • Where: The United Center, Chicago, IL.
  • Line: Hawks -2, -112
  • Over/Under: TBD

Chicago Bulls

The Bulls begin the season looking to improve upon a lackluster 2019-2020 campaign under head coach Jim Boylen. They finished the regular season with a 22-43 record — good enough for 11th place in the Eastern Conference. Since then, they have added Arturas Karnisovas and Marc Eversley to their front office, who, in turn, hired Billy Donovan to coach the team after Boylen was let go.

The Bulls drafted Patrick Williams out of Florida State, who might start in the opener, and signed Garrett Temple in free agency. They return much of their young core and are looking for Coby White and Wendell Carter Jr. to have breakout seasons. Coby White is now the starting point guard, and Carter Jr. has been hampered by injuries early in his career, but they both are high draft picks who have shown some promise.

Chicago’s best player is Zach LaVine, who is coming off his breakout campaign as a professional in the NBA. He is more than just a good dunker at this stage in his career, becoming the go-to scorer for this young Bulls team.

Chicago finished the preseason with a record of 3-1, splitting games with the Rockets and beating the OKC Thunder twice.

Atlanta Hawks

The Hawks come into the 2020-2021 NBA season ready to roll with plenty of new faces such as Rajon RondoKris DunnDanilo GallinariBogdan Bogdanovic, and Clint Capela. These guys are experienced NBA professionals who have had success in their careers. The Hawks hope their winning ways follow them to Atlanta.

After finishing the preseason 2-2, splitting games with the Magic and Grizzlies, the Hawks are looking to come to Chicago and take the season opener from the Bulls. Jake did an excellent job highlighting who played well in the preseason, which you can read about here.

Prediction

Last season, the Bulls scored 106.8 PPG (27th of 30) and gave up 109.9 PPG (14th of 30). The Hawks, last season, scored 111.8 PPG (17th of 30) and gave up 119.7 PPG (30th of 30). This game has all the makings of a barn-burner, which should be a thrilling way to begin the year.

Both Chicago and Atlanta are young teams looking to creep back into the playoff picture this season, and I can see either winning this game. I give Atlanta the slight edge for a few reasons.

  1. Trae Young should be able to carve up this Bulls defense. Coby White is not a great defender yet, and the Bulls don’t have a guard who will be able to handle Trae.
  2. Experience: The Bulls are still a very young team, and the veteran talent Atlanta acquired will help in this opening game.

The Hawks are favored by two points. The Bulls are potentially a dangerous team that can score a lot of points through Coby White, Zach LaVine, and Lauri Markkanen. The Hawks will need to look better defensively than they did in the preseason to pull out a road win. With that said, Atlanta should start the season 1-0. They have more talent and veteran experience than this Bulls team.

Prediction: Hawks win 124-118.

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