Knicks @ Bulls: MSG 8pm
The Knicks are coming off their best regular season win in recent franchise history. The Knicks handed the Heat their worst home loss since the “Big 3” era began in Miami. The Knicks are now 1.5 games up on the Heat for first place in the Eastern Conference, with a 2-0 tiebreaker advantage. The Knicks are 10-1 against the Eastern Conference. The expectations for the Knicks are now higher, now doubt about it. Now the Knicks will have a target on their backs. The Knicks will look to win their sixth straight game in Chicago who are statistically the best defensive team in the NBA.
The Chicago Bulls without Derrick Rose, have continued to focus on defense despite having notoriously bad defensive players. These new additions include Marco Belinelli, Kirk Hinrich, Nate Robinson and Nazr Mohammed. They are now committed to playing defense under Tom Thibedeau. We all know what Joakim Noah,Taj Gibson, Rip Hamilton, and Luol Deng bring to the floor, defensive intensity. Carlos Boozer is still rebounding well at the four position.
Without Rose, Deng has been playing over 40 minutes per game and leading the team with 18.9 ppg but shooting just 31% from three. Five Bulls average double figures, Hamilton (13.9), Boozer (13.2), Noah (13.0) and Robinson (11.4). Boozer is not carrying the load offensively at all, he needs to be averaging between 18-20 in order for the Bulls to be consistent and he’s just not doing that. Hamilton is their best three point shooter, but he is only shooting at 37% and he may miss the game due to injury. Hamilton killed the Knicks last year in a loss in Chicago during the Mike Woodson era.
This season the Bulls are the best defensive team in the following impressive categories: Opponents points allowed per game, opponents field goal percentage, defensive efficiency, and concerning for the Knicks, third best opponents three point shooting percentage. This may be the toughest defensive challenge the Knicks have faced, and once again on the road. The Bulls are also a top 7 rebounding team which has been a season long challenge for the Knicks. Offensively, the Bulls play at a slow pace, but they really struggle from the outside and they lack penetration. The Bulls average the 8th least amount of points per game (93.4), and they are the fourth worst shooting team from downtown at 31.7%.
The Bulls need to stay patient in this game as the Bulls will frustrate the Knicks with their defense and offensive rebounding. This will be another true challenge for the Knicks after two emotional wins. The Bulls will be ready to play and if the Knicks continue to take a one day at a time and unselfish approach, the Knicks will continue to rack up the wins. LETS GO NEW YORK!
Sean Aquino @reactdrummer34 – Knickswag Contributor