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Chicago Bulls (19-14) at New York Knicks (23-12) Preview: Two Games Does not a Trend Make

January 11th, 2013 at 1:53 PM
By Caleb Nordgren

I wish, more than almost anything, that I understood this team. I wish I could figure out how a team can beat the Miami Heat on the road, blow out the Cleveland Cavaliers at home and then cough up a double-digit lead at home for the second time this year to the Milwaukee Bucks.

I do not understand the 2012-13 Chicago Bulls. I just don't. And as a result, I have no idea what's going to happen tonight at Madison Square Garden when the Bulls take on the New York Knicks.

These two teams have faced each other twice now, with the Bulls coming out victorious both times. In fact, they were blowing the Knicks out at MSG for the first three and a half quarters the last time they saw them, before the fourth quarter devolved into utter chaos

Here's what we know: The Bulls are a terrible matchup for the Knicks. The Knicks love to play small and shoot threes. The Bulls love to play big — and can do so without compromising their defense against a smaller team — and are very, very good at defending the three point line. Both times they've seen each other, the Knicks have had that ugly reality shoved in their faces pretty hard. And their fans have noticed.

Now. Having said that, the Bulls still need to show up for the game, something that has been oddly inconsistent this year. In the past, the Bulls pretty much always showed up. This year, it's been surprisingly hit or miss. But they have shown a trend of showing up against really good teams, and with New York natives Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson on the roster, it's hard to believe they won't show up tonight. Also, they really dislike the Knicks anyway, so there's that.

But it's the Bulls, so it would not surprise me in the slightest to see them get blown out tonight. I'm ready for just about anything.

Key Matchup: Carmelo Anthony v. Luol Deng

Deng got the best of Melo the only time they've seen each other this year. Melo sat out the first game between the Bulls and Knicks and he was ejected from the second after scoring 29 points — but he took 25 shots to do it and only made 40 percent of them. Deng is one of the best perimeter defenders in the league and Jimmy Butler has shown he can defend Melo capably as well. If you slow Melo, the Knicks offense turns to Raymond Felton in the pick and roll, and he's gone a combined 18/51 from the field in two games against the Bulls this year. So if Deng can do the job on Melo, the rest shouldn't be too difficult.

Tags: Carmelo Anthony, Chicago, Chicago Bulls, Joakim Noah, Luol Deng, Miami Heat, NBA, New York Knicks, Taj Gibson

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