Bulls

Hawks won't rest starters, adding intrigue to Bulls' finale

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Hawks won't rest starters, adding intrigue to Bulls' finale

The equation Wednesday night for the Bulls is simple: Beat the Atlanta Hawks and earn the East's No. 3 seed.

But that won't be quite as simple as once thought, as Hawks head coach Mike Budenholzer revealed he plans to play his regular starting five and not sit anyone on the final day of the NBA regular season.

"We’ll see how the game goes but going into it, planning really to play everybody normal minutes," he said during pregame availability.

It's an odd move considering the Hawks have nothing to play for - having wrapped up the East's top seed weeks ago - and have sat their starters multiple times this month. One school of thought could be that Budenholzer wants his starters to regain some lost chemistry with power forward Paul Millsap, who has missed the last five games with a shoulder injury.

[NBC SHOP: Gear up for the playoffs, Bulls fans!]

Still, Budenholzer, a disciple of the king of resting starters in Gregg Popovich, wants to make sure his team is playing its best basketball heading into the postseason. At 60-21 and an eight-game lead on the second-seeded Cavaliers, the Hawks have done just that.

"We wanted to be playing well going into the playoffs and we wanted to be as healthy as possible. We’ve tried to balance those two things and it’s never perfect," he said. "But the group and everybody’s done the best possible and we’re looking forward to finishing tonight and getting ready for the playoffs."

The Bulls will be without Joakim Noah (hamstring) and Kirk Hinrich (knee). Taj Gibson was expected to play after testing his shoulder out in a pregame workout, and will start in place of Noah.

With plenty at stake for the Bulls in the final game of the year, Tom Thibodeau reiterated Wednesday that he's not focused on the different scenarios that could play out (depending on the Raptors' outcome tonight) but rather making sure his team has done everything they can before the postseason begins.

"Just thinking about tonight. Want us to be playing as well as we could play. The challenge has been the continuity thing and we're just going to have to find a way to get it done."

All of our 2019 NBA Draft content in one convenient location

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USA TODAY

All of our 2019 NBA Draft content in one convenient location

Here's all our NBA Draft coverage to get you ready for Thursday night's main event.

Analysis

Every move the Bulls make should be geared toward 2021

Forget needs: The Bulls need to draft the best player on Thursday

How the Bulls can land a max free agent this summer

Versatile Coby White makes one thing clear at Combine: 'I'm a point guard'

Bulls not a part of Anthony Davis trade but it could affect draft night

The statistical need that top NBA Draft prospects would fill for the Bulls

Cam Reddish out to prove doubters, show he's the total package

Jarrett Culver checks all the boxes as a perfect two-way wing in today's NBA

Could Rui Hachimura be an option if the Bulls trade down?

A history of the Bulls trading up and down in the NBA Draft

Here's what it would cost for the Bulls to trade up

Draft Profiles

Why Cam Reddish should be an option at No. 7

What the Bulls would get in Virginia's De'Andre Hunter

If Bulls draft for need, here's what Darius Garland or Coby White would bring

If the Bulls draft Texas center Jaxson Hayes, here's what they'd get

USC's Kevin Porter Jr. could be the steal of the draft

Why Jarrett Culver should be an option at No. 7

NBA Mock Drafts

Expect lots of movement on draft night

How does the Anthony Davis trade affect the draft?

If the Bulls trade back with the Hawks, who might they target?

Mailbags

Trade talks heating up surrounding the Bulls

Best fits for the Bulls rebuild in the draft, free agency

Heading into a crucial offseason, where will the Bulls look for help?

News

Report: Bulls looking to trade up for Vanderbilt PG Darius Garland

Report: Bulls interested in Celtics forward Marcus Morris

Patrick Beverley is a fan of Bulls assistant Roy Rogers

Cam Reddish will miss 6 weeks after undergoing core muscle surgery

Assistant coach hires could hint at philosophy shift for Bulls offense

Here's who experts around the league have the Bulls drafting at No. 7

John Paxson confident Bulls will find a player that fits the rebuild

Podcasts

Reaction to Anthony Davis trade and impact on Bulls' draft strategy

K.C. Johnson joins to talk latest Bulls offseason rumors

Ricky O'Donnell on the Bulls' chances of landing a star at No. 7

Could the Bucks go after Malcolm Brogdon in free agency?

Would the Bulls consider trading for Mike Conley?

John Paxson confident in where the Bulls' rebuild is headed

Will Cam Reddish find his place in the NBA or be a bust?

Sarah Kustok joins to talk Lottery, draft, free agency and more

Catching up at the Combine with Vinnie Goodwill

Options at 38

Will high-flying Luguentz Dort be on the board when the Bulls pick at 38?

Admiral Schofield could be an option for Bulls

Why the Bulls should take Missouri center Jontay Porter at 38

Why the Bulls should take Kansas' Dedric Lawson at 38

Ryan Hollins says Golden State Warriors would "run laps" around the '96 Bulls

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NBC SPORTS CHICAGO

Ryan Hollins says Golden State Warriors would "run laps" around the '96 Bulls

Former NBA journeyman Ryan Hollins made waves on Tuesday, stating that Kobe Bryant or Michael Jordan couldn’t “fill LeBron’s shoes”. Hollins argues that LeBron James cemented himself as the greatest player of all-time with his impact on multiple franchises and his knocking off of the Golden State Warriors in the 2016 NBA Finals. 

Hollins doubled down on his argument, saying that the Golden State Warriors would “run laps around that Bulls team”. Shaquille O’Neal brings up the valuable point that whichever team has the upper hand would depend a lot on what rules they played on, the more physical 1990s rules or the more finesses-based and offensive-oriented current rule set. Hollins believes that the Warriors would defeat the 90s Bulls regardless of what rules they played under, and O’Neal simply could not believe it.

“Whoever’s paying him to say all this stuff, I will pay you double to stop it,” said a bewildered Shaq. He knows a thing or two about playing against the 90s Bulls, as he was a key member of the Orlando Magic team that knocked off MJ’s Bulls in six games in the 1994-95 Eastern Conference Semifinals.

With All-NBA level talent Anthony Davis now headed to LeBron’s team, we could be seeing James back in the NBA title picture sooner than later. A return to the NBA Finals stage would add even more layers to the already complex, never-ending back-and-forth over who the true GOAT is in NBA history.