Knicks-Bulls preview

The Bulls (2-1) face the Knicks (1-2) tonight in the United Center. In recent days, the Bulls have had good news (Carlos Boozer got his cast off) and strange news (Derrick Rose skipped filming a cameo for “The Good Wife”), while the Knicks had to postpone a home game against the Magic due to an asbestos scare.


Speaking of which, how weird is this:

The Knicks — a presumably defenseless team that relies on Mike D’Antoni’s wacky offensive system to outscore their opponents — currently rank 24th in Offensive Rating (101.1) and 8th in Defensive Rating (102.4). Seriously.

As for the Bulls, they’re 15th in Offensive Rating (106.4) and 9th in Defensive Rating (102.6).

So…Tom Thibodeau’s team is worse at playing defense than Mike D’Antoni’s squad, but better at putting points on the board?

In related news: Dogs are now living with cats. Mass hysteria!

Anyway, the Knicks have played only three games, so you have to figure that Top 10 D-Rating is bound to drop back into the high 20s where it belongs. And the Bulls — who have also played only three games — should hopefully keep getting better. Fingers crossed.

New York is led by Amar’e Stoudemire (21.3 PPG, 7.7 RPG) and Wilson Chandler (21.0 PPG), while the Bulls are getting by with Derrick Rose (27.7 PPG, 8.7 APG, 5.0 RPG) and Joakim Noah (14.3 PPG, 15.3 RPG). I would include Luol Deng (20.7 PPG), but his average was padded by his 40-point explosion against the Blazers.

The last time these two teams faced off in the United Center, the Bulls won 118-86. Of course, that was back when guys like Kirk Hinrich, Brad Miller, Tyrus Thomas, John Salmons and Jannero Pargo were playing for Chicago, and David Lee, Al Harrington and Chris Duhon were still key cogs in New York’s machine.

So that game doesn’t tell us much of anything.

What may tell us something is the fact that the Knicks do a lot of running (9th in Pace Factor) but score only 98.0 PPG. And I already mentioned their lousy O-Rating. This team is struggling the score. The Bulls play good defense. See where I’m going with this?

One problem that’s been plaguing the Bulls in the early going is foul trouble. The Knicks may be the cure to that particular ill: New York ranks 29th in Free Throws Per Field Goal Attempt. It makes sense. According to Hoopdata, the Knicks lead the league in three-point attempts (26.3 per game) but only 18th in shots attempted at the rim (22.0). Jacking up outside shots doesn’t earn many fouls.

The Knicks may not be attacking the rim, but they sure are defending it. New York ranks third in opponents’ at-the-rim field goal percentage (55.7).

Of course, these stats are all based on a pretty small sample size. Both teams have had major personnel turnover, so I have no idea what’s going to happen. I will tell you this, though. The Bulls are 12 days away from starting a seven-game Western Conference road trip.

That means they need to win every home game.

28 Responses to Knicks-Bulls preview

    Chuck November 4, 2010 at 3:54 pm #

    The Knicks defensive rating is a mirage. This is another team that the Bulls should be able to punish on the glass and inside. The Knicks have absolutely no defensive presense on the block and that should allow Rose to score at the rim with impuity. Noah should get several put-backs on offensive rebounds because the best post player the knicks have (Amare) is indifferent to defense.
    The Bulls should win this in a walk.

    thirdsaint November 4, 2010 at 4:08 pm #

    Definitely want this game won tonight. It’d be great to be 3-1 heading into Boston, a game we could take. Better to stockpile on the wins now before that cursed circus trip.

    Brad S. November 4, 2010 at 4:57 pm #

    In a completely un-related note:

    After reading Tony C’s contribution yesterday, I thought to myself, “Wonder how VDN’s doing in L.A.?” So I headed over to the Tru-hoop Clipper’s blog to do some light reading. All I can tell you is this: In about 1.5 years, Al-Farouq Aminu’s stock will probably be very low, he could be had for next to nothing, and then turn into a very good player, when he leaves VDN’s system (ala Luol Deng). If you have been following the Bulls the last 2 years, it is a highly amusing read.

    Chuck November 4, 2010 at 5:19 pm #

    I think VDN takes a lot of lumps in the media. Some of it deserved soem of it not. But, you can’t deny that he had the team playing hard this past year dispite the GM trading away useful players. A LOT of other teams would ahve packed it in and went fishing.

    max November 4, 2010 at 5:20 pm #

    “The Knicks defensive rating is a mirage. This is another team that the Bulls should be able to punish on the glass and inside. The Knicks have absolutely no defensive presense on the block and that should allow Rose to score at the rim with impuity. Noah should get several put-backs on offensive rebounds because the best post player the knicks have (Amare) is indifferent to defense.
    The Bulls should win this in a walk.”

    I agree that our bulls should punish them on the glass, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Noah have a 20/20 game, but I wouldn’t underestimate the knicks’ interior defense. They added turiaf and randolph – both above average shot blockers – along with Mozgov (decent shot blocker) and Stoudemire (far better shotblocker than Lee was). Chandler is also blocking 3 shots/game, which has to be a mirage, but it’s another guy with length who’s going to bother Rose. I think this is a game where we’re going to see how well Rose can adapt when those scoring opportunities are not coming as easily. To me, here are the factors that will decide if the bulls win:

    1) Perimeter shooting by us (Kyle Korver should take most of Brewer’s minutes tonight)
    2) Gallinari’s play (he’s been horrendous – 6ppg on 20% FGs — we might be playing a 3-0 team instead of a 1-2 team if he was playing like he did last year).
    3) Rose’s ability to do more than score — to use the penetration to put pressure on the defense and then to distribute the ball if NYC’s long arms are making it difficult to finish in the paint.

    I think it’s a given that we’ll outrebound them badly. It all depends on how well we take advantage of those extra possessions. Once we get Boozer back, al of these conditions will go away. That second scorer, especially a guy who can score from all over the floor, will really give rose the operating room to dominate even more.

  6. . November 4, 2010 at 5:34 pm #

    ‘The Knicks struggle without the aid of their home-field asbestos.” – Doc Funk

    DC November 4, 2010 at 5:57 pm #

    Wrong, Chuck. Keep bandying out the stereotypes of the Knicks.

    The Knicks actually have good shotblockers this season, unlike in previous seasons. As in a league-leading 8.3 blocks-per-game. Their main trouble is a big one – rebounding. All of their big men are mediocre rebounders, meaning that the Knicks will be losing the battle of the boards on most nights.

    The rest of the team has improved defensively as well. This is especially apparent at the point guard position, with Raymond Felton replacing the lackadaisical and unmotivated Chris Duhon (who somehow got a $16 million contract).

    The Knicks’ defensive rating is no mirage, Chuck and Mr. McHale. This is, of course, provided they don’t keep switching and double-teaming at every opportunity. But their main woe is their rebounding.

    thirdsaint November 4, 2010 at 5:58 pm #

    I also read an article from an LA beat writer where he blasted VDN for his contradictions and confusing ways of managing. And the season isn’t even 2 weeks old yet… Kind of funny.

    VDN probably isn’t as bad as we all think but he’ll never be a championship coach.

    Tony C. November 4, 2010 at 6:50 pm #

    While I don’t plan to think about VDN this season (except as a jarring contrast to our current coach), here were a couple of amusing comments about him prior to the Clipper’s recent (first) win:

    After the Clippers were blown out again Monday to fall to 0-4, Del Negro was teed up by Los Angeles Times columnist T.J. Simers, who wrote that the perennially downtrodden Clippers “have finally found their man, so clueless it’s as if he was born to be this organization’s spokesman.”


    Summarizes Simers: “As he continues to talk, he sounds so far in over his head it’s no wonder he’s already drowning. The Del Negro error has begun, all right.”

    thirdsaint November 4, 2010 at 6:57 pm #

    Tony C, that’s what I was refering to. Didn’t take them long to start dogging on him. I sure am glad we aren’t running his no-offense anymore…

    Tony C. November 4, 2010 at 7:07 pm #

    ts –

    I actually don’t wish him ill, it just astonishes me that another NBA team signed him. Sure, he could improve with experience, but that’s similar to saying that a triple-A baseball player who hits .170 and .185 in his first two seasons will improve if you give him more at bats in the majors.

    I guess the Clippers management looked at the Bulls team successes during his tenure, and mistakenly assumed that they were a result of, rather than in spite of VDN’s “coaching”.

    Chuck November 4, 2010 at 7:07 pm #

    Blocking shots is not the end-all-be-all of interior defense. Can they box out? Can they keep opposing players off the glass? Can they keep players from scoringat teh rim? No. No. And No. The russian can’t play d without fouling out. Randolph will get punished by a much more physical Noah. Amare is not interested with staying with his guy and does not rotate. Chandler is a good defensive guy, but he is more of a wing.

    Brad S. November 4, 2010 at 7:51 pm #

    “While I don’t plan to think about VDN this season (except as a jarring contrast to our current coach)”

    …That’s it exactly! This season,(so far), I have been struck by how much smarter the offense is, and what a drastic difference good coaching makes. Vinny was a decent personnel guy, he kept his players motivated, and handled his whole situation with suprising grace and dignity.

    But in reading the discriptions of the offense that the Clippers are running, ITS THE SAME STORY AS WE SAW LAST YEAR. …and the blogger and readers haven’t figured out yet that the problem is not their players, but the offensive sets that the coach is calling. It’s only funny because, to a serious Bulls fan, it couldn’t be any clearer.

    Max November 4, 2010 at 8:06 pm #

    Why are people still talking about VDN???

    bullsfandom November 4, 2010 at 9:49 pm #

    You would think Clippers fan’s wouldn’t be so quick to jump on VDN. I mean, its not like they had a good coach before right?

    Tony C. November 4, 2010 at 10:26 pm #

    “Why are people still talking about VDN???”

    To drown out the unbearable Randy Moss noise!

    inkybreath November 5, 2010 at 12:43 am #

    Hmmmm, cool. About 5 mins left, Bulls on defense – Gallinari ends up hitting a 3. The good thing? Though he hit the shot, the defensive switching and reswitching was CRISP!

    It was very promising to see them knowing where they needed to be.

    Ok, that was sick. Rose now has his vintage DUNKvsNY.


    inkybreath November 5, 2010 at 12:58 am #

    Watson is broke and I still don’t miss Pargo.

    max November 5, 2010 at 1:01 am #

    knicks holding us to 41% from the field… I’m sure they’ll lose the intensity in the second half, and we’ll abuse them. Just wait for them to get overconfident and let up like bad teams do.

    Knicks own your souls November 5, 2010 at 1:27 am #

    LOL, that is the Bulls master strategy? Get completely owned in the first half and hope for the Knicks to get sloppy?

    Good plan imo lol.

    Bulls suck…

    max November 5, 2010 at 1:52 am #

    dude i want some props. Did I call it? this team has no killer instinct. Seen amare? He practically passed us the ball.

    Knicks own your souls November 5, 2010 at 1:55 am #

    Yeah props for your team cutting 6 pts off an 18 pt lead.

    Knicks own your souls November 5, 2010 at 2:21 am #

    Hey max, hows that killer instinct looking now?

    Knicks own your souls November 5, 2010 at 2:33 am #

    Pretty funny you bulls fanboys talking about winning this one easily. Only to get owned by the knicks even with STAT and WC having their worst games of the season.

    inkybreath November 5, 2010 at 2:51 am #

    Well… they never gave up?

    inkybreath November 5, 2010 at 6:38 pm #

    Nice try, Soul. I would think you would be more worried about STAT getting owned by a 2nd year Carl Landry wannabee and not lauding the fact that you guys had an amazing night from behind the arc and still almost let it slip away.

    Your guys played so well that we missed almost every open jumper and still almost got the game.

    janglesjr November 7, 2010 at 12:57 am #

    Michael Jordan and Larry Bird fighting over a cheeseburger? Michael Jordan versus Michael Jordan?


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