Knicks vs. Bulls – Madison Square Garden
When: Friday | 7:30 PM
Where to Watch: MSG Networks
Where to Listen: ESPN 98.7 FM
New York: Thursday’s practice session was short for the Eastern Conference leaders. The Knicks convened at MSG Training Center and Steve Novak participated in a light workout after missing Wednesday’s game with flu-like symptoms. Amar’e Stoudemire scrimmaged for the second time this week and Iman Shumpert started conditioning work without contact. Both players will not be available for Friday’s game against Chicago but Novak is expected to rejoin the lineup. At 19-6, New York owns a one game advantage on the Miami Heat heading into the rematch against the Bulls.
Chicago: The Bulls are 3-2 since defeating the Knicks on December 8 in Chicago. In the five games, the Bulls have faced stiff competition with losses to the red-hot Clippers and dominant Grizzlies. Chicago managed to bounce back on Tuesday night by defeating Boston in convincing fashion and the team improved to 14-10 while claiming the top spot in the Central Division. Derrick Rose remains sidelined with a knee injury and Richard Hamilton has missed significant time due to a plantar fasciitis. After facing the Knicks on Friday night, the Bulls will fly to Atlanta to wrap-up a quick two-game road trip
Last Time Out
New York: Anthony scored 31 points in his return and the Knicks knocked off the Nets 100-86 at the Garden.
Chicago: The Bulls shot 50 percent from the floor and captured a 100-89 victory over Boston on Tuesday night.
The Numbers Game
The Knicks average point differential at home is an impressive +10.3 points per game.
Match-up to Watch
Carmelo Anthony vs. Carlos Boozer
New York only registered 85 points in the first meeting and while the Bulls are a strong defensive team, Anthony’s absence played a major role in the outcome of the game. Anthony’s explosive first quarters this year have fueled the Knicks blowout wins. As seen on Wednesday night, Anthony is the go-to offensive weapon for New York and it will rely on him to find success against a top ranked defensive squad. On the flip side, Carlos Boozer is the most likely defensive assignment for Anthony as he suits up at the power forward position. Anthony will have to limit Boozer off the pick-and-pop as he attempts to hit midrange jumpers from the elbow.
What to Look For
The Bulls are a simple team to figure out. They play exceptional team defense, slow the pace, limit turnovers, and pound the glass. Without a dynamic superstar like Rose in the lineup, Chicago becomes a blue collar squad and this was evident in its win over New York on December 8. At Thursday’s practice, Tyson Chandler was vocal in preaching the need for the Knicks to establish a physical style on Friday night. New York is dominant at MSG and with Anthony’s offensive firepower; the team should find the win column in this Eastern Conference rematch.