Bulls Projected Starting Line-Up:
PG: Derrick Rose
SG: Ronnie Brewer
SF: Kyle Korver
PF: Carlos Boozer
C: Joakim Noah
Key Injuries: Luol Deng and Richard Hamilton
The New York hope to end their five game losing streak tonight, but they will have their hands full as they will be going up against the best team in the NBA, the Chicago Bulls. The Bulls are currently sitting atop the Eastern Conference, and if the season had ended today, these two teams would play in a best-of-seven playoff series.
The Bulls will be a little shorthanded tonight without Deng and Hamilton, but their great depth can propel them to a victory. The Knicks have struggled with Carmelo Anthony, Amar'e Stoudemire and Jeremy Lin in the lineup, but a win tonight could turn the tide in New York.
Frontcourt: The Chicago Bulls have a very talented frontcourt with Noah and Boozer, and those two inject the team with energy on both ends of the court. Although Noah is known for his defensive intensity, he can get easy points near the basket and his second-chance rebounds create problems for the opponent. If the Knicks contain Noah in the paint, they can dominate the frontcourt and perhaps walk away with a win. As for Carlos Boozer, he started the season off slow, but has picked up his game tremendously. Boozer amassed a season-high 41 minutes against the Utah Jazz and poured in 27 points and grabbed eight rebounds in the game. If the Bulls' two big men are clicking tonight, the Knicks will have a tough time competing against Chicago. The Bulls also have sharpshooter Kyle Korver in the frontcourt and he can catch fire from the field at any point. If Korver gains a little confidence in the early going, the Knicks will be in for a long night.
Backcourt: With perimeter defender Luol Deng out of the lineup most likely, the Bulls will rely on Ronnie Brewer to fill the void. Brewer can lift the Bulls with his shooting, so the Knicks should think twice about leaving him open on the three-point line. The Bulls also have MVP Derrick Rose, someone who has single-handedly beaten the New York Knicks in past games. Rose has an uncanny knack of attacking the basket and he gets to the paint at will. If the Knicks want to complete the upset, they need a collective team effort contain Rose.
Keys to Victory:
Allow Carmelo Anthony to dominate the ball- As crazy as that sounds considering his offensive struggles the past couple of games, the Knicks need to feed Anthony the ball. The Bulls do not have Deng suited up for the game, which means the team's best defender will not be able to guard Anthony. The Knicks will have to match the high-powered Bulls team and if Anthony has a dominating offensive performance, chances of victory are high.
Match the Bulls' defensive intensity- The Chicago Bulls are one of the best defensive teams in the NBA, and unlike the Knicks, the Bulls can win games even if their offense isn't there. What separate good teams from great teams is that title contenders understand that championships are won with defense. The Bulls will play hard on that end of the court for a full 48 minutes, so the Knicks must do their best to match that effort.
Show some pride- Eventually there comes a time where pride kicks in for a team. The Knicks have played horrendous defensive in the past several games and if they don't show up, the team can very easily lose their sixth consecutive game. The Knicks want to be considered as a conference threat, and if they continue to slide, they may not even make the playoffs.