Even though the Knicks are rated as the highest seed of the potential opponents, New York may be the best matchup for Chicago to receive in the first round. The Bulls have won all three games against the Knicks this season, despite two being at Madison Square Garden.
Chicago matches up well against the Knicks. It can throw out two separate defenders who can take Carmelo Anthony in Luol Deng and Jimmy Butler. In the two games Melo appeared, he did score 68 points, but took 57 shots to get them.
Perhaps the best sign, however, is that Chicago showed that it could beat New York in a variety of different ways this season. In their first meeting, Chicago won behind a barrage of threes and by rebounding.
In the second matchup, Chicago outrebounded the Knicks by 11 and held them under 42-percent shooting from the field. In the third game, the Bulls won a shootout, where Luol Deng scored 33 and Chicago shot 57 percent from the field. No matter how the Knicks attack, Chicago has a defense.
The critical point is that the Bulls have been relatively healthy against the Knicks. The only players who have missed the games are Derrick Rose and Richard Hamilton, who have been out of mind for much of the season.
However, in a playoff series, it is highly likely that Deng and Noah will play through any pain, and Gibson and Rose could potentially be back—depending on how their bodies react—which would cause New York all kinds of problems.
The Bulls play the Knicks on Thursday, April 11, which will be a nationally televised game on TNT. Chicago comes into the game heavily hindered by injuries, likely being without Rose, Deng, Gibson and Noah. New York is currently blazing hot on a thirteen game win streak, so this will be a test whether Chicago can truly find ways to win in a high pressure situation.