Knicks-Bulls Preview

New York Knicks Status Check:
Record: 28-27
Division: 6-6
Conference: 21-17
Home Record: 18-10
Last 10 Games: 7-3
Streak: Won 1
Last game: 96-80 win over Orlando
PPG: 97.2 (14th)
Opponents PPG: 94.4 (11th)
Offensive Rating: 103.2 (21st)
Defensive Rating: 100.3 (4th)
Pace: 93.6 (3rd)
Effective Field Goal Percentage: .484 (16th)
Turnover Percentage: .152 (29th)
Defensive Rebound Percentage: .743 (8th)
Offensive Rebound Percentage: .275 (15th)
Free Throws Per Field Goal Attempt: .236 (6th)
Opp. eFG%: .481 (11th)
Opp. TO%: .162 (2nd)
Opp. FT/FGA: .225 (24th)
Leading scorer: Carmelo Anthony (21.0)

Stats from Basketball-Reference

New York Injury Report:
Jared Jeffries: probable for today’s game (knee inflammation)
Jeremy Lin: out 4-6 weeks (left knee surgery)
Amare Stoudemire: out 2-4 weeks (bulging disc in back)

Overview:
With just ten games left in the season, the Bulls have a three game lead on the Heat for the top spot in the East. Chicago got back on the winning track against Boston and will now take on another playoff team, the Knicks.

Six of Chicago’s last ten games are against playoff teams (five of those six are against Eastern conference playoff teams), but the other four are against some bottom feeders. The Bulls play the Knicks twice, Miami twice, Dallas and Indiana, while also taking on the Pistons, Wizards, Bobcats and Cavaliers.

Chicago controlled the second half against the Celtics, behind a great performance from Luol Deng (26 points, six rebounds, three steals and four steals). The Bulls brought down seven more offensive rebounds than Boston, which helped overcome their less than impressive bench play.

In the bench’s defense, they’ve been short-handed most of the season, with Ronnie Brewer, C.J. Watson, Kyle Korver and sometimes even John Lucas III getting starts. But that time may be over.

Rip Hamilton is already back, and Derrick Rose is “more than likely” going to play against New York. Rose has missed 12 straight games. The last game Rose played was against the Knicks on March 12.

The Rose-Hamilton-Deng-Boozer-Noah starting line-up is 9-1 when starting this season.

In Rip’s second game back he scored nine points on 4-11 shooting to go with three rebounds and three assists in 20 minutes of action. Rip had zero turnovers against Boston, after turning it over five times against the Rockets.

Both the Knicks and Bulls are coming in on two full days of rest, and both have won seven of their last ten games. The Bulls have taken the first two games of the season series, winning by an average of four points. Rose scored 32 points in each game, and is averaging 9.5 assists as well.

And although Rose has been healthy both times the Bulls and Knicks met, Chicago was without Hamilton (no surprise) and Deng for both games.

Deng played great defense in the second half against Boston, holding Paul Pierce to four points. Lu with have his hands full again, this time against Anthony. Melo is averaging 29 points over his last two games, and 27.6 over his last five.

He is also averaging 23.5 points and seven rebounds per game against the Bulls this season.

But Melo is also going to have his work cut out for him, with Amare Stoudemire and Jeremy Lin both out with injuries. Lin is probably out for the season, but Stoudemire could return in a week or so.

New York, who is teetering on the edge of .500, is the currently in the last playoff spot. This means Chicago and the Knicks would face off in round one, if everything stays the same for the last ten or so games.

Only Milwaukee has a real chance to keep the Knicks out of the playoffs. The Bucks are a half game back in the standings and have won three in a row. Philadelphia is the team ahead of New York, currently with a one game lead. It would be much better for the Bulls to take on New York in round one, and let Philly and Miami play each other. The Sixers defense would be even scarier in the playoffs, and the Bulls seem to match-up better against the Knicks.

Philly is first in defensive rating (98.2), but the Knicks aren’t too far behind in fourth place (100.3).

Chicago and New York have Monday off before facing each other again; that game will be in the United Center.

The Easter Bunny might have brought some of those disgusting marshmallow peeps, but he also brought Derrick Rose in the basket for Bulls fans; 50 percent ain’t bad. Will a win come with it (“it” as in Rose, not the peeps)?

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