I hope everybody had an eventful New Year’s Eve and made use of all the free services for getting our drunk asses home, or at least paid money for cabs if you were dumb enough to not know that Triple A would literally tow your car along with your drunk carcass to your house for free if you gave them a ring. I of course worked last night, so my New Year’s was more sobering than watching Schindler’s List in a hospice ward. Which explains why I’m available to write about tonight’s game while everyone else crushes Advil and water and tries to remain still on their beds. But I expect you all to have made a full recovery by tip-off at 8 tonight.
Once again, the Knicks draw the Bulls after they played a hard-fought overtime game. This time, though, it was only one overtime, they won the game, and they’re not playing us on the 2nd night of a BTB. So, we figure to see what the Bulls are really capable of, which lately, is quite a bit. Their last 4 games have been against top competition, starting with a road win at Oklahoma City, followed by a closer-than-the-final-score loss at Dallas and home wins against Toronto and Indiana, two of the East’s best. Seems like we’re drawing a Bulls team that is rounding into form, and playing them at the United Center is going to be a difficult task.
The Knicks have played pretty good basketball lately, at least defensively, but they couldn’t get over the 4th quarter hump against the difficult schedule because their shooting has been about as accurate as a mechanic’s repair estimate lately. That changed drastically against Detroit, and we all hope that the Knicks can carry over their regained shooting form to Chicago tonight. Unfortunately, Chicago leads the league in OPP FG%, allowing just 41.7% shooting so far this season. Hoiberg was supposed to come in and modernize the offense, but the stare-blankly-into-space coach has mostly just watched the Bulls be the Bulls thus far. It’s going to be difficult to score against Chicago’s stellar defensive rotations and long players, and Melo tends to hate playing against Jimmy Butler almost as much as he hates being defended by Paul George. Good thing we only see Kawhi and Draymond twice a year, as I’m sure being checked by them is as much fun as a root canal without anesthesia.
I’m interested to see how Kristaps is used since he only played 19 minutes against Detroit, and he should be able to get around Gasol without much issue. My feeling is Gibson will be guarding him, and that will be tough, but Kristaps has a big length advantage and could conceivably take advantage of that to have a big game. There’s no Joakim Noah for Chicago, which is a blessing for Zinger, and also D-Rose is probably not going to play, which given his currently catastrophic PER of 10.5 might not be a bad thing for the Bulls. For perspective, 15.0 is considered average, and D-Rose ranks 55th out of 68 qualifying point guards. So maybe his name incites more fear than his game. Sure, the scouting report says he is questionable tonight, but we all know Mr. Glass doesn’t suit up when he gets a boo-boo.
The UnbreakaBull has had some tragic luck and I hate to poke fun at a player who used to be such a joy to watch, but when the internet makes pictures like that and you understand the hilarity of the reference, you’ve got to put it in your article when D-Rose is injured or you’re a hack as a writer. In my unprofessional opinion.
This is going to be a tough win to get, but the Knicks have to scratch a couple wins out of their next five games somewhere. The road trip at Atlanta, Miami and San Antonio looms after a home game against the Hawks Sunday (and by Tuesday night we’re going to be very tired of seeing that effing team, it’s like they’re playing a mini-playoff series these past 10 days) and it’s going to be difficult to find success in those games. You hate to call a game in January a must-win, but the Knicks really do need this game tonight. Let’s hope the Bulls all went clubbing (I have nothing more to add to the Cleanthony Early story aside from my happiness that it looks like the kid is going to be fine, I added my 58 cents in the news thread where it was discussed at length already on Wednesday) and the Knicks played 2K in their hotel rooms and followed a strict nutrition and hydration regimen, because that may come into play as well tonight.
Enjoy the game, folks!