Bulls Vs. Hawks Game 3 Preview: Can Atlanta Keep Home Court Advantage?

The Atlanta Hawks got the one win that they needed to steal away home court advantage from the Chicago Bulls. Now comes the tough part of keeping it.

Joe Johnson, Josh Smith and the Hawks head to the Highlight Factory to take on the Bulls in Game 3 of their Eastern Conference Semifinals series on Friday (7:00 p.m., ESPN, 97.9 FM).

The Hawks got the job done with a stellar Game 1 performance where they kept NBA MVP Derrick Rose away from the free throw line and Johnson and Jamal Crawford were nailing jumper after jumper.

But the iso-Joe offense turned into that familiar iso-no spread in Game 2, after Chicago attacked the 5-time Atlanta All-Star with a double-team. Johnson's shots were limited, so the Hawks had to rely on other players to pick up the slack.

Jeff Teague did his part, posting 21 points in Atlanta's ugly 86-73 loss, but the rest of the team relied too much on the jumper as fundamental basketball fell to the wayside.

The failure to get to the basket resulted in a miserable shooting night for Marvin Williams (2-for-9), Al Horford (3-for-12) and Smith (4-for-14).

It was Smith that drew the ire of coach Drew afterward. According to hoopdata.com, six of Smith's 14 shots came from beyond 16 feet. He didn't connect on a single try. That lead Drew to talk to J-Smoove for about the zillionith time of playing within his game.

The other not-so-good thing to come out of Game 2 was the emergence of Joakim Noah. Chicago held a ridiculous 58-39 edge on the glass and a lot of it was due to the play of Horford's former Florida teammate Noah. The two-time collegiate national champion finished with 19 points and 14 boards, seven of which came on the offensive glass.

Chicago's advantage on the boards helped mask what was an otherwise shaky night for the Bulls, who shot just 39-percent (33-for-84) from the field, committed 14 turnovers and had 10 shots blocked.

In order for Atlanta to hold serve, they are going to have to figure out a way to contain Noah and come out with energy on both ends of the floor. That means that they are going to have to crash the glass and bring that extra effort to grab the rebound, which should elevate their transition game.

The Hawks are also going to have to go back to that patient offensive team and figure out a way to go inside-out instead of outside-in. Chicago's done a decent job stopping Atlanta's touches in the paint, but Atlanta can't shy away from contact there if that is the only way they're going to get buckets.

If Atlanta can succeed, they will win this basketball game. However, if they revert to that losing form, the crowd, which will have a healthy Chicago contingent, will shift to the Bulls and home court advantage will go by the wayside. In more ways than one.

For more on the series, visit SB Nation's NBA hubPeachtree HoopsBlog-a-Bull, and SB Nation Chicago.

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