Knicks vs. Bulls 8:00 PM
Where to Watch: TNT
Where to Listen: ESPN 1050 AM
Fresh off an impressive performance against the Pistons, the Knicks returned to Madison Square Garden Training Center for a practice session on Wednesday afternoon. Amar’e Stoudemire did not practice due to a sprained ankle he suffered in the second half of Tuesday’s game but the power forward is expected to suit up on Thursday. Carmelo Anthony practiced as the team looks for its first set of consecutive wins since January 11. The game against Chicago will start the dreaded three games-in-three-nights for the Knicks as they attempt to jump back into the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference, just two games behind Milwaukee.
Hard to imagine the Bulls finding room for improvement after a 62-20 banner season, MVP trophy for Derrick Rose, and Coach of the Year award for Tom Thibodeau. However, falling short of an NBA title haunts last year’s top team in the Eastern Conference. Chicago acquired Rip Hamilton this offseason to add a shooting threat on the perimeter; otherwise the team remains the same in search of the crown in 2012. After a stellar 16-3 start to the season, the Bulls are just 3-3 in their last six and in the midst of a ridiculous nine-game road trip. At 18-6, Chicago sits in second place in the Eastern Conference standings.
Last Time Out
New York cruised to a 113-86 victory on Tuesday night, effectively snapping a three-game slide. Anthony returned to the lineup to score a game-high 25 points in the win.
The Bulls fell into an early hole on Wednesday night and they never recovered, suffering a road loss in Philadelphia 98-82.
The Numbers Game
Chicago’s offense is struggling of late, only averaging 91 points per game in its last three outings.
Match-up to Watch
Iman Shumpert vs. Derrick Rose
As John Wall quickly discovered a couple of nights ago, an angry and motivated Rose can spell disaster for any player in his path. After missing some crucial free throws down the stretch in Miami, Rose dropped 35 points on Wall and the Wizards in 41 minutes of action. On Wednesday night, the reigning MVP only recorded 31 minutes and 18 points, a subpar performance by his lofty standards. New York’s rookie Iman Shumpert should expect a focused Rose as he will force the action in the open floor and attack the rim with any slight crack in the defense. The key for Shumpert is to play a physical brand of defense while making him work on the opposite end of the floor.
What to Look For
Chicago will most likely be without Luol Deng due to a left wrist injury. Anthony knows all about wrist injuries and he is fresh off an efficient 9-for-14 shooting night against the Pistons. Expect Anthony to attack the Bulls defense, especially with Deng sidelined and Kyle Korver most likely the starting small forward for Chicago. In terms of rebounding, the Bulls rank No. 1 in boards per game at 45.3. Tyson Chandler made an astute point when referencing Chicago’s dominance on the offensive glass. The Knicks center believes they are productive because of Rose’s penetration in the lane as he draws attention from the opposing team’s big men. The perimeter guards for New York will have to stay in front of the shifty point man and allow the frontline players to stay at home.