Knicks-Bulls Preview

New York Knicks Status Check:
Record: 14-4
Division: 2-1
Conference: 10-1
Road Record: 7-4
Last 10 Games: 7-3
Streak: Won 5
Last game: 112-92 win over Heat
PPG: 103.2 (3rd)
Opponents PPG: 94.7 (8th)
Offensive Rating: 113.3 (2nd)
Defensive Rating: 104.0 (13th)
Pace: 90.6 (26th)
Effective Field Goal Percentage: .528 (3rd)
Turnover Percentage: .10.5 (1st)
Defensive Rebound Percentage: .737 (10th)
Offensive Rebound Percentage: .233 (27th)
Free Throws Per Field Goal Attempt: .186 (24th)
Opp. eFG%: .496 (24th)
Opp. TO%: .15.5 (4th)
Opp. FT/FGA: .202 (13th)
Leading scorer: Carmelo Anthony (26.4)

Stats from Basketball-Reference

Knicks Injury Report:
Carmelo Anthony: questionable (lacerated finger)
Marcus Cmby: out (plantar fasciitis)
Raymond Felton: probable (thumb)
Iman Shumpert: out (knee surgery)
Amare Stoudemire: out (knee surgery)

The Bulls didn’t start well against Detroit, but behind Joakim Noah’s career night, they pulled out their 16th straight win against the Pistons and can now string together their longest winning streak of the year against the top team in the East.

The Pistons shot 51 percent last night against the Bulls, including 55 percent in the first quarter. It goes without saying that the Bulls can’t let that happen again, but the defense will have to be a lot better to slow the Knicks. New York is second in offensive efficiency and third in effective field goal percentage. Detroit was 26th in offensive rating and 18th in effective field goal percentage.

The Bulls could luck out though, as Carmelo Anthony and Raymond Felton may not be able to go. Felton is listed as probable, but played Thursday night, while Melo is questionable. The Knicks were without Anthony when they faced the Heat, but still put up an offensive efficiency of 117.9. Miami has been struggling on defense this season, but that is an impressive offensive showing without their star forward. It’s also important to remember they’ve done all of this without Amare Stoudemire in the line-up.

Raymond Felton scored 27 points and dished seven assists Thursday against the Heat. Felton hit 6-10 from three, and the Knicks went 18-44 (41 percent) from beyond the arc in the game. Steve Novak hit 4-9 from deep to chip in 18 points. The 20-point defeat was Miami’s worst home loss in the Big Three era.

New York is shooting 40.8 percent from beyond the arc as a team this season, and has made 218 threes so far (the next closest team, the Lakers, have made 173).

On the opposite end of the spectrum, the Bulls have made 71, good for last place in the league. The Grizzlies, who are second to last, have made 97. Chicago is 27th in the league in three point percentage (32 percent). The two teams couldn’t be more different on offense. The Bulls almost never take threes, while the Knicks live by it. Chicago has taken 222 threes this season, only four more than the Knicks have made.

If the Bulls win tonight, they will move to three games above .500, the most games above the middle mark they’ve been all season.

New York is hot right now, having won five straight. Three of those wins came against the Wizards, Suns and Bobcats, while the other two came against Milwaukee and Miami. There’s no question that the Knicks are one of the best teams in the league, and are sitting atop the Eastern Conference right now.

And this isn’t the time the Bulls wanted to go up against such a strong team. Chicago is on their last legs, being on the second night of a back-to-back. Tonight will be the Bulls’ fourth games in five nights. This is one where Gregg Popovich would sit his player, but not Tom Thibodeau.

Noah played 43 minutes last night, Luol Deng played 42 and Marco Belinelli logged 40. Even Boozer (39) and Hinrich (36) got a lot of run. Over the three game run, Noah has played 39, 44 and 43 minutes. Deng played for 41, 42 and 42. It’s hard to imagine Thibs giving these guys some rest, even if the game gets out of reach. The Bulls are 1-2 this season on back-to-backs.

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