A potential playoff preview takes centerstage tonight, as the eighth-place New York Knicks (18-23) come into Chicago to take on the first-place Bulls (34-9). The Knicks hope to rediscover their winning ways after losing five straight.
Where: United Center, Chicago Ill.
When: 8:00 p.m. ET March 12, 2012
Watch: ESPN and Comcast SportsNet Chicago
Live Stream: ESPN3.com
Listen: WCMY 1430 AM (Chicago), WEPN 1050 AM (New York)
Will the Bulls win by more than eight-and-a-half points tonight?
According to 5Dimes.com, the Bulls are eight-and-a-half-point favorites tonight. You should take the Bulls, as they have won nine of their last 10 games while the Knicks have been struggling recently.
Key Injuries (According to USA Today)
Center Joakim Noah is probable with an illness. Noah missed Saturday’s game with an undisclosed illness, but should be back for tonight’s game.
Forward Luol Deng is doubtful with pain in his left wrist, which caused him to miss Saturday’s game against the Jazz.
Guard C.J. Watson is doubtful for tonight’s game with an ankle injury. The injury has forced Watson to miss the Bulls' last four games.
Forward Jared Jeffries is questionable with a knee injury. This injury has forced Jeffries to miss the Knicks' last three games.
Guard Bill Walker is out until April with an elbow injury.
What They're Saying
According to the Chicago Tribune:
With only nine available players for Saturday's victory over the Jazz, Butler had an inkling he might receive first-quarter minutes again. And with Luol Deng questionable for Monday's matchup with the Knicks, don't be surprised to see the first-round pick make his third straight early appearance.
"Jimmy will play more," Thibodeau said. "His attitude and approach are great. He works at it every day."
According to the New York Times:
It could become worse quickly. The Knicks play in Chicago on Monday and finish the week with two games against the Indiana Pacers.
“It’s definitely, definitely not fun,” said Stoudemire, who had just 9 points and 5 rebounds in the first three quarters. “It’s something that we got to not get used to. I came here for a reason. I came here to win. And that’s something that’s still close to my home.”
He added, “We’re just going through the motions right now.”
Most Important Player to Watch: Chicago Bulls Guard Derrick Rose
In their last contest, Rose dominated the Knicks with 32 points, 13 assists and four rebounds while playing 40 minutes in a 105-102 overtime victory.
With the Knicks defense giving up 96.3 points per game and allowing opponents to shoot 44.7 percent from the field, Rose should have an easy time ripping apart the Knicks once again.
Key Matchup: Jeremy Lin vs. Derrick Rose
It took me this long to mention Lin, but here we are. Linsanity has died down since the Knicks' seven-game winning streak. Now that teams have gotten a chance to scout how Lin plays, his numbers have taken a hit.
Since the Knicks game against Dallas, Lin has not scored more than 22 points in a game. Plus, he’s still turning the ball over five or more times per game.
If Rose can put pressure on Lin tonight, he will shut him down—just like the Miami Heat did before the All-Star break.
Who wins this game?
The Bulls are plagued by injuries, but the Knicks don't play defense and have a turnover-prone point guard. It's hard to pick against the Bulls in this one.
Bulls 110, Knicks 98