Pre-Game Report: New York Knicks at Chicago Bulls

New York Knicks (14-4) vs. Chicago Bulls (10-8)
8:00 PM EST, December 8, 2012
United Center, Chicago, IL

Bulls Projected Starting Line-up

PG: Kirk Hinrich
SG: Marco Belinelli
SF: Luol Deng
PF: Carlos Boozer
C: Joakim Noah

The New York Knicks return to the basketball court after their 20-point rout of the defending champions, the Miami Heat. The Knicks stole the game on the road without Carmelo Anthony and proved to the world that they are capable of beating the elite teams of the league.

In tonight’s game, the Knicks will match up with the Chicago Bulls who currently sit at the fourth spot in the Eastern Conference. Chicago battling injuries to key players, so the team the Knicks play tonight will be very different from the one they may face down the road.

Front court:

With Derrick Rose out of the lineup due to injury, the Bulls’ front court has had the responsibility to fill the void. Joakim Noah anchors the paint for the Bulls and he is the emotional leader for them on the court. Even though Noah is limited with his offensive moves, he gets easy looks at the basket due to his incredible rebounding skills. In the Bulls’ previous game, Noah scored 30 points and grabbed 23 rebounds, proving just how dangerous he can be.

Carlos Boozer is the other big body the Knicks have to deal with in the paint, but luckily for New York, he is not as effective on the defensive end as Noah is. If the Knicks want to attack the paint, they must make it a priority to challenge Boozer. However, Boozer is averaging 14.1 points per game, a player that should be accounted for on the offensive end.

Luol Deng is perhaps the Bulls’ best scorer and he has been carrying a lot of the load with Rose out of the lineup. Deng has the ability to explode on offensive at any given time and he will cause a lot of problems for this Knicks team. Deng can stretch the floor with his three-point shooting, but he can also drive the lane for easy buckets.

Back court:

The Bulls’ back court is not as explosive as it was when Rose was on the court, but Kirk Hinrich has done a solid job producing at the point guard position. Hinrich is no way the same player as Rose is, but he has been very effective for this Bulls team. Hinrich is averaging 6.8 points and 5.8 assists per game, and he will be a tough cover for the Knicks. Hinrich is a great play maker and he can hurt the Knicks with his outside shooting.

Marco Belinelli has replaced the injured Richard Hamilton in the starting lineup and his primary focus on this team is to shoot perimeter jumpers. Belinelli is pretty limited at other spots on the court, so the Knicks should not worry too much about him. However, if Belinelli gets an open look at the basket, there is a good chance the Bulls walk down the court with three points.

Keys to Victory:

1. Carry momentum from last game: Even though the Knicks last played on Thursday night, their win over the Heat was definitely a confidence booster for everyone on the team. If the Knicks can keep their confidence level high they should easily beat the Bulls in tonight’s game.

2. Stick with the offensive system: The Knicks have a tendency to steer away from the offense and they struggle in games when there are too many isolation plays. If the ball continues to move on the court and the Knicks have a balanced attack, they should walk away with their 15h victory.

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