The New York Knicks are coming off a stellar victory over the Philadelphia 76ers, but they have another formidable opponent on Thursday evening, the Chicago Bulls.

The Bulls have won all four of their games to start the season, but their schedule has lacked strength, taking on the Detroit Pistons twice and New Orleans Pelicans once. Their most recent win over the Toronto Raptors was impressive, despite just barely squeaking it out by three points.

Aside from their record, the Bulls have their fair share of weaknesses, notably on their bench, which lacks profound depth. For example, only one of their depth pieces averages more than six points per game, Alex Caruso. However, their starting five is talented, featuring Zach LaVine, Lonzo Ball, DeMar DeRozan, and Nikola Vucevic.

Slowing down those four alone will be a challenge for New York, but if they can accomplish a few significant determinants, they have a solid chance at winning their fourth game of the season.

Three keys for the Knicks as they prepare to take on the Bulls:

1.) Get into Chicago’s bench

Similar to how the Knicks approached Philadelphia, getting into Chicago’s bench is how they will win this game. The Knicks’ second team and unique player combinations work wonders against opponents with lackluster benches.

As stated above, they have minimal talent on the backend, so playing up-tempo and fast-paced basketball will do them well, forcing Chicago to take out some of the key starters and rotate in reserves.

Even Philadelphia’s head coach Doc Rivers raved about the team’s depth and physicality.

2.) Guard the perimeter aggressively

The Bulls have several quality three-point shooters, ranging from LaVine, who is hitting 44% of his shots from range this season, to Lonzo Ball, who’s shooting 43%.

Suppose the Knicks can eliminate their quality shooting from beyond the arc, putting more pressure on DeMar DeRozan to beat them on the interior. In that case, they can take advantage of Mitchell Robinson‘s physical and aggressive presence. Robinson is coming off a solid defensive game against Joel Embiid, but DeRozan offers a bit more as a shooter from mid-range.

Chicago doesn’t necessarily rely on any specific offensive quality, mixing in a healthy balance of three-point shooting and mid-range opportunities. Guarding the perimeter aggressively will give the Knicks a significant advantage, especially if their shots are dropping from deep.

3.) Communication and switching

Defensively, the Knicks were fantastic in the first half against Philadelphia, holding them to just 42 points. It wasn’t until the second half where they gave up a bit of legroom but still matched them offensively with ease.

The Knicks are still gaining their footing on defense this season, but when they are communicating and switching correctly, there is no question they are one of the best defensive teams in the league. Against Orlando, they found themselves failing to pick up players driving to the rim, so being proactive and focused is a key factor in game five.

This article first appeared on Empire Sports Media and was syndicated with permission.

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