The Atlanta Hawks aren't being given much of a chance in their Eastern Conference semifinals series against the Chicago Bulls. I mean they really really aren't being given a chance. Sure, we said that in Round 1 of the NBA playoffs, but this time we mean it. Look at the lockstep:
Bulls in four: Chicago Now's Shams Charania thinks Atlanta's lapses into one-on-one offensive attacks "play right into the Bulls' hands" -- no argument there. TSN's Tim Chisholm can't imagine how Atlanta is going to score on the NBA's best defense after shooting so poorly in round one. Count Ball Don't Lie's Kelly Dwyer and ESPN's John Hollinger (of course!) among the sweep camp.
Bulls in five: The Chicago Tribune's K.C. Johnson gives Chicago the edge at virtually every series factor. The Washington Post's Michael Lee sees Jamal Crawford as the series' most important player, considering the back court damage done by Kirk Hinrich's injury. The Los Angeles Times' Mark Hesler picks the Bulls, but doesn't predict a number of series games -- sounds like about five to me. Sporting News' Sean Deveney sees this as yet another bad second round matchup for Atlanta. Sports Illustrated's Zach Lowe sees a Hawks squad with far too many questions -- lit'rally!
Yahoo! Sports' Johnny Ludden, along with ESPN's Kevin Arnovitz, Michael Wilbon (of course!) and Chad Ford, shows up here as well.
Bulls in six: The Hawks will show their true colors after winning a series that mattered so much to them, says TSN's Jack Armstrong. Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski, Greg Anthony and Marc J. Spears have Chicago in six, along with ESPN's J.A. Adande, Chris Broussard and Jalen Rose.
Bulls in seven: Hello, ESPN's Tim Legler, television's finest and most beloved professional basketball analyst.
Hawks ... at all: God bless you, SB Nation Atlanta's own Phil Foley, for picking the Hawks in six games.
I agree with Mr. Armstrong, though I'll be happy to see the Hawks take the series to six; based on the past few seasons, it's hard to imagine this Hawks collective not feeling like it's already won its Super Bowl by enjoying revenge against the Orlando Magic.