The Knicks could reeeaaallly use a victory today to push themselves two games above .500 since I don't know when, but to give themselves a little cushion above the Bucks who play the Thunder tomorrow. With a win and a Bucks loss, the Knicks could get a little more comfortable in the 8th seed. Oddly enough, this game probably means little to the Chicago Bulls other than pride in beating the Knicks.
So with all that, let's jump!
- RETURN OF INJURED PLAYERS!
- For the Knicks, they will have two relatively small returns from injured players. Jared Jeffries and Bill Walker will both be back today, though they will have different roles in the rotation. Having Jeffries back will be nice for the Knicks' depth upfront, likewise, it will probably help their team defense, which has already been good. Walker probably won't see time, but it'll be good to have him back just in case! For the Bulls, Derrick Rose will play for the first time in awhile (of course), and most likely light up the Knicks in MSG.
- This seems so obvious, but it's not when it comes to the Knicks and Bulls. Last time these two teams met (D'Antoni was still coach and things were reaching rock bottom), the Knicks gave up 22 offensive rebounds to Chicago and really shot themselves in the foot. The Knicks always seem to have chances to beat Chicago and denying them second chances on offense will be huge. Tyson Chandler and Carmelo Anthony have both been beasts on the boards, but having Harrellson and Jeffries in the rotation will likely help too.
- Both teams boast potent benches, the Knicks' top guns being J.R. Smith, Steve Novak, and now hopefully Toney Douglas and Jared Jeffries. The Bulls bring Ronnie Brewer, Kyle Korver, C.J. Watson, and Taj Gibson off the bench and those guys play hard and aggressive. Both benches excel by getting defensive stops and running the break; they thrive on momentum. A big part of the game today will be the Knicks' bench matching Chicago's energy.
- The Bulls are one of the elite defensive teams in the NBA and the Knicks are entering that realm. New York plays a great team defense, as does Chicago, but Chicago also has some elite isolation defenders. The Knicks can hope to get what they want offensively by playing quickly and moving the ball, but it won't be easy. The Knicks will likely have to resort to slugging this one out on defense, getting stops, and taking whatever offensive chances they get. I'm not expecting pretty basketball today.
That's what I'll be watching for, folks! Big game for the Knicks, so make sure to perform all of your good luck spells, rituals, sacrifices, what have you, before the game at 1. Go Knicks!