Hawks' lineup facing changes

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ATLANTA --- For a team that comes across as emotionally fragile, the Atlanta Hawks sure showed plenty of toughness in the opening round of the playoffs.

Atlanta guard Kirk Hinrich holds his knee in Game 6. He had an MRI on Friday, and his status for the series against Chicago is uncertain. The Hawks need his defense against Derrick Rose.   John Bazemore/Associated Press
John Bazemore/Associated Press
Atlanta guard Kirk Hinrich holds his knee in Game 6. He had an MRI on Friday, and his status for the series against Chicago is uncertain. The Hawks need his defense against Derrick Rose.

They'll have to dig even deeper this time around.

After knocking off Orlando 4-2 -- winning three homes games by a total of 10 points -- the Hawks are getting ready to face the top-seeded Chicago Bulls in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

The Bulls won a league-high 62 games during the regular season and they'll have the home-court edge. Game 1 is Monday night in Chicago.

Compounding the challenge for Atlanta: guard Kirk Hinrich went down with a strained right hamstring in the closing minutes of the clincher against the Magic.

Hinrich underwent treatment and an MRI on Friday, which revealed a "significant" strain. He was listed as doubtful for the series, and the Hawks aren't sure about his status.

"This certainly changes things," Hawks coach Larry Drew said. "He's our starting point guard. Hopefully, he'll be able to go. But if he's not, we'll have to make an adjustment. We don't know what we'll do at that point."

Losing Hinrich would be a blow, especially at the defensive end against Chicago star Derrick Rose. The Hawks would likely counter with Joe Johnson, though Drew doesn't want to wear down his best player using him exclusively on Rose.

The Hawks also could hand a bigger role to Jeff Teague, who's played sparingly his first two years in the league but is one of their quicker players. Damien Wilkins is another option.

"We're looking at the matchups against Chicago and seeing what works best for us," Drew said. "But we don't really know if Kirk can go or can't go. Maybe he can play some. Maybe he can't play at all. A lot of that will change things."

The Hawks face all sorts of lineup questions going into this series. Against Orlando star Dwight Howard, they bulked up the frontcourt by starting Jason Collins at center, moving Al Horford to power forward and shifting Josh Smith to small forward.

But the Bulls have a quicker, more flexible frontcourt, so Atlanta will likely go back to the lineup it used most of the season: Horford at center, Smith at power forward, Marvin Williams at small forward.


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