Tonight marks the first matchup between what was originally believed to be two of the top contenders in the Eastern Conference. That was the belief prior to the season anyway; since the season started however, as Knicks fans are tragically aware, it hasn’t quite panned out that way on the Knicks side of things.
The Bulls are currently seated atop the Eastern Conference, the Knicks, on the other hand, have not been so fortunate; currently sitting in the 10 spot the Knicks are on the outside of the playoff picture, looking in.
Despite the space between these two teams in the current standings, New York may have a chance tonight to steal a game against the aforementioned best team in the Eastern Conference. The Bulls will enter play tonight without two of their key pieces; both Luol Deng and Richard Hamilton have been ruled out of tonight’s game with injuries. Based on what we saw last night against the Sixers, the Bulls are a very beatable team without their starting wings in place.
In order to come away with the win, the Knicks are going to have to get a similar effort out of their starters as they did against the Pistons on Tuesday. The Knicks got an effecicent, balanced attack out of their starting five; highlighted by the play of Carmelo Anthony, who shot 9-14 from the floor, netting him a game high 25 points, and Landry Fields who also was impressive, finishing with 17 points on 7-10 shooting.
Sharing the ball was also key to their win against Detroit; the Knicks’s 25 assists was one of the highest totals of the season, and something that Knick fans have been waiting all season to see.
Defensively the goal for the Knicks has to be to try and contain Derrick Rose. The obvious truth is that you are never going to stop a guy with the talent of Derrick Rose, but if you can limit his ability to get others involved, the Knickerbockers may be able to stunt the Bulls offensive attack just enough to steal a much needed win.
This is a big game, one that could help turnaround the season for the Knicks should they be able to come away with the W. On paper, this is a winable game, but in order to win this game the Knicks are going to have to put together a second straight game with an increased effort level and that is something they have been unable to do all season long.