Pre Game News and Notes
Chicago Bulls vs. New York Knicks
Revenge week continues for the Knicks, as the Bulls make their first visit to the Garden this season after beating the Knicks 93-85 earlier in the season. The Bulls are without their star player in Derrick Rose, but still lead the Central Division with a 14-10 record thanks to a suffocating defense. The Knicks will be much tougher to contain this time around, as Carmelo Anthony will be suiting up after missing the first match-up.
-Can Melo Keep It Going?
Coming into the season, Carmelo Anthony said that he was willing to sacrifice some scoring for wins, but that is not the case thus far this season. Anthony is nearing a career high scoring average with 28.0 points per game this season.
Nets head coach Avery Johnson said Anthony was on “another planet” after their meeting Wednesday and he is right; Anthony is currently on a torrid pace, ripping off four 30+ scoring efforts in a row. You can be sure he will be at it again tonight, as he wants to get some revenge on the team that beat his Knicks when he was out with injury.
The first quarter will be key, as the Knicks have been outstanding in the opening frame thus far this season, led by Anthony’s 10.2 points per first quarter. That spells trouble for the other teams, as the Knicks usually keep on trucking after that without missing a beat.
-Effort on the Boards
The Bulls feature a very active front court in Joakim Noah, Carlos Boozer, Luol Deng, and Taj Gibson; four players who get at it on the glass. This has put the Bulls in the top 10 in both rebounds and second chance points per game 43.5 and 10.2. On the other hand, the Knicks are at the opposite side of the spectrum in both categories, ranking near the bottom in each.
The Knicks will have to match the Bulls intensity on the defensive end, as they will look to slow the game down to a grinding halt and wear you down. The Knicks got back to those principles Wednesday against the Nets and should be able to do the same tonight, as the back-court is where the Knicks struggle most on defense but the Bulls do most of their damage from the front-court.
-Stretch the Floor
It is imperative the Knicks shoot it well from deep tonight. The Bulls’ Noah is one of the best pick-and-roll defenders in the league, making life more difficult for Raymond Felton and Tyson Chandler on those lob attempts they executed so well against Brook Lopez and the Nets.
The return of Steve Novak will elevate that effort from the Knicks tonight. Novak, who sat out the game against the Nets with flu-like symptoms, will return to the court tonight. He will help the Knicks stretch the floor, forcing the Bulls big men to come away from the basket, opening up the lane for penetration from Felton and Anthony.