Knicks @ Bulls 9:30 PM
Where to Watch: MSG
Where to Listen: ESPN 1050 AM
New York: Interim head coach Mike Woodson continues to work his magic as the Knicks have transformed into a defensive minded squad. Over its last 10 games, New York is 7-3 and might have just captured it s most important win of the season on Sunday afternoon. After Philadelphia suffered a massive defeat to the Celtics, the Knicks moved up to No. 7 in the Eastern Conference standings as they hold the tiebreaker advantage at this point. Milwaukee was also dropped on Monday night, which gives New York a 1.5 game lead ahead of the chasing Bucks. On the injury front, Jared Jeffries returned to the lineup in Sunday’s win and received 11 minutes of court time. Jeremy Lin spoke to reporters prior to the contest against the Bulls and he is cautiously optimistic about a return while targeting the second round of the playoffs if the Knicks advance. Amar’e Stoudemire spent some time on the court on Sunday prior to the game but he remains sidelined with a bulging disc in his lower back.
Chicago: Despite the loss on Sunday, the Bulls hold the top spot in the Eastern Conference with a 43-14 overall record. Derrick Rose returned to the lineup against the Knicks and showed some rust before he exploded for 18 of his team-high 29 points in the second half. Interesting enough, Chicago was 8-4 prior to Rose’s debut at the Garden. The Bulls own a two-game lead on the Heat with a schedule that will certainly finalize the playoff matchups in late April. With contests against New York, Miami, and the Heat again next Thursday, Chicago is searching for chemistry, momentum, and the top seed.
Last Time Out
New York: Behind Anthony’s season-high 43 points, the Knicks snatched a much-needed 100-99 overtime win over the Bulls at Madison Square Garden.
Chicago: Uncharacteristically, the Bulls committed 20 turnovers in the 100-99 overtime loss to the Knicks on Sunday afternoon.
The Numbers Game
New York held the reigning MVP to just 8-of-26 shooting from the floor and eight turnovers in its home win.
Match-up to Watch
Knicks Backcourt vs. Derrick Rose
This exact matchup was highlighted in Sunday’s scouting report. New York’s backcourt did an incredible job on Rose early in the game and down the stretch. Iman Shumpert forced Rose into a difficult step-back jumper at the end of regulation. The Knicks versatile rookie then helped to force Rose to his left while Landry Fields and Tyson Chandler contested an errant floater that bounced off the back iron to conclude overtime. One can assume Rose was consumed with the defeat in his first game back from the groin injury. Shumpert, Fields, and J.R. Smith must frustrate the 2010-11 MVP and limit his productivity in order to post back-to-back victories over the Bulls.
What to Look For
Expect a raucous United Center crowd and a playoff type atmosphere for this unique rematch on Tuesday night. With postseason positioning changing every day, this specific contest could determine the spots for both teams while providing a preview of a first round series. Examining the box score from Sunday, free throw shooting will once again be a major factor. The Bulls had an opportunity to shut the door on the Knicks but four failed attempts at the charity stripe from Luol Deng and Rose ultimately led to their defeat. New York must find a way to even the rebounding numbers after losing the battle 59-47 on Sunday. Also, watch how Tom Thibodeau elects to defend Anthony, considering the All-Star lit up multiple Chicago defenders, including Carlos Boozer, Taj Gibson, and Deng. Anthony might need another out of this world performance to topple the East’s top team.