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Bulls Vs. Hawks Preview: Derrick Rose's Health Looms Large

The Chicago Bulls (25-8) face the Atlanta Hawks (19-12) in a tough test in the first half's final week, and they may be with or without Derrick Rose.

Prior to this past weekend, the Chicago Bulls were more or less cruising along just fine without reigning MVP Derrick Rose, who had sat out the four previous games with back spasms. But the walls caved in on Saturday when the Bulls lost to the New Jersey Nets by the score of 97-85, and it wasn't nearly that close for most of the contest. As the Miami Heat continue to steamroll their competition, Rose's potential return will loom larger and larger over every game.

Rose is being called a game-time decision for today's match up vs. the Atlanta Hawks, but Rose has been teetering on the edge of playing for at least a week now. According to head coach Tom Thibodeau, Rose's practice regiment was increased some over the weekend, but the team has reiterated that Rose will play whenever he is fully healthy.

Another cause for concern is that the Hawks whipped a fully healthy Bulls squad in the teams' last match up in early January, and may be the best team that Chicago has faced since Rose has been out. Thibodeau and the Bulls front office will continue to play the long game with Rose's health, but another performance like the one vs. the Nets may force their hand, if it hasn't been forced already.

Game date/time: Monday, February 20, 2011, 3:00 p.m. CST

Location: United Center, Chicago, Ill.

TV: ESPN

Odds: No line

For updates on the matchup, stay tuned to SB Nation Chicago. For more in-depth coverage, visit Blog a Bull and Peachtree Hoops. News and notes from around the NBA are available at SB Nation's NBA news hub.