Bulls-Knicks Preview

New York Knicks Status Check:
Record: 23-12
Division: 4-2
Conference: 14-5
Home Record: 13-4
Last 10 Games: 4-6
Streak: Lost 2
Last game: 81-76 loss to Indiana
PPG: 101.5 (8th)
Opponents PPG: 96.7 (12th)
Offensive Rating: 111.5 (2nd)
Defensive Rating: 106.2 (20th)
Pace: 90.8 (21st)
Effective Field Goal Percentage: .513 (6th)
Turnover Percentage: .107 (1st)
Defensive Rebound Percentage: .746 (5th)
Offensive Rebound Percentage: .246 (24th)
Free Throws Per Field Goal Attempt: .189 (23rd)
Opp. eFG%: .506 (26th)
Opp. TO%: .147 (6th)
Opp. FT/FGA: .208 (18th)
Leading scorer: Carmelo Anthony (29.0)

Stats from Basketball-Reference

Knicks Injury Report:
Marcus Camby: left Thursday’s game (foot)
Raymond Felton: out (broken right pinky)
Iman Shumpert: out (knee)
Rasheed Wallace: out (stress reaction in foot)

Chicago goes for its third win in as many tries against the Knicks this season, as New York tries to avoid dropping both games of a back-to-back.

The Knicks lost to Indiana last night, without their star player. Carmelo Anthony was serving a one-game suspension for waiting outside the Celtics’ team bus for Kevin Garnett. New York, who averages 101.5 points per game, really struggled to score without their starting forward. They shot just 34.8 percent from the field and finished with only 76 points, by far their lowest total of the season (their next lowest scoring effort was 85, against the Bulls on December 8).

The Knicks starters scored just 35 points. Indiana’s bench, who employs the likes of Tyler Hansbrough, Ian Mahinmi and Gerald Green (in a non-Dunk Contest environment), scored 32 points. J.R. Smith scored 25 points off the bench for New York, but it took him 29 shots to do so. Tyson Chandler was the only Knick to shoot at least 50 percent. Chandler had a solid game, scoring 12 points and grabbing 15 boards, but the reigning Defensive Player of the Year was the only Knick starter to have fewer shots taken than points scored. Ronnie Brewer nearly had an 8-trillion, but he ruined it by having a single assist (miss you, Ronnie).

But the Pacers do this to pretty much everyone they play. Indy is second in opponent points per game (89.1) and first in defensive rating (98.5). The Pacers haven’t allowed more than 94 points since December.

The Bulls will be getting a somewhat tired Knicks team that is already pretty old. Jason Kidd played 31 minutes, Tyson Chandler played 38, J.R. Smith played 40 minutes, and Marcus Camby re-aggravated a foot injury in his 20 minutes. Keep in mind Amare Stoudemire is also returning from injury and was told by team doctors to limit his minutes. Anthony will obviously be well-rested, as he hasn’t played since Monday’s loss to the Celtics.

The Bulls held New York to 32.1 percent shooting in their first match-up, and 41.8 in their second go-around. The first game the Knicks didn’t have Carmelo, and they were missing Stoudemire in both. The Knicks will be without Raymond Felton for the first time in the series. Felton averaged 24.0 points per game, but shot 35.3 percent from the field and 14.3 percent from beyond the arc in the two games versus Chicago.

The Knicks are not playing their best basketball of the year right now. They started off smoking hot from the field, but they’ve dropped every month of the season thus far. In November New York shot 41.6 percent from three, in December it fell to 37.1. So far in January, they are shooting 34.9 percent from deep. They have also dropped in overall shooting, steals and points per game.

Those numbers translate to the Knicks being just 4-6 in their last ten games, coming back to earth from their great start and amazing shooting. New York is 4-3 on the second night of back-to-backs, averaging 104 points per game, but giving up 108.3.

The Bulls are having their best shooting month, at 46.4 percent, more than 2 percent better than the next highest month. They are also shooting 48 percent from three, nearly 17 percent better than they did in November. It’s only four games in, and knowing the Bulls’ offense things could change quickly, but these numbers are solid signs of improvement from a team whose offense needs to vastly improve.

The Knicks score a lot of points, and even though the Bulls are 5th in defensive rating, New York is going to get their points. Brandon Jennings torched the Bulls for 35 points and Milwaukee scored 104, when they average 96.5. The Bulls are going to have to bring a better defensive effort, especially Luol Deng on Anthony, if they want to start their own back-to-back with a win. At least this time it will be Deng on the opposing team’s best scorer, rather than Nate Robinson.

Bad blood: Last time the two teams met, there were four ejections. It started with Carmelo Anthony being ejected in the fourth quarter. I don’t think Honey Nut Cheerios, or any cereal, played a part in this ejection, although you can never be too sure. Knicks coach Mike Woodson followed and then Joakim Noah and Tyson Chandler were later tossed. I nominate Nazr Mohammed to get thrown out this time.

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