Sunday, April 8, 2012

Chicago Bulls vs. New York Knicks Pre-Game News and Notes April 8

Sunday, April 8, 2012 1:00 P.M. ET 
Chicago Bulls vs. New York Knicks 

The Knicks continue their tough stretch of games this afternoon, in the first game of a home and home series against the Chicago Bulls. The Knicks are coming off another blow-out win of the Orlando Magic on Thursday night and look to continue their hot play of late. This is the 3rd meeting of the season between the Knicks and Bulls, with the Bulls taking the first 2 games. Each of the first 2 games was close, coming right down to the end. 

-Injury Updates 

This afternoon, both the Knicks and Bulls are expected to have people return to their lineups. The Bulls are expecting MVP Derrick Rose to return this afternoon from his 12 game hiatus because of a strained groin. It could not have been worse timing for the Knicks, but they have some players of their own returning that should help the cause. Jared Jeffries is expected to play on Sunday, giving the Knicks another defender to throw at Derrick Rose. Bill Walker is also expected to see his role expand, as he received only 16 seconds of token garbage time against the Magic on Thursday. 

-Contain Derrick Rose 

The Knicks have struggled all season containing the opposing teams’ guards, more specifically the Point Guard. Derrick Rose has been no exception, going for 32 points in each game. It was not the easiest 32 points in his career, but 32 points is still 32 points and the Knicks have to find a way to better contain him. With Iman Shumpert now in the starting lineup, the defensive assignments will be something to watch throughout the game. The emergence of J.R. Smith off the bench and the return of Jared Jeffries gives the Knicks plenty of capable defenders to throw at Rose throughout the game. 

-Control the Paint 

With Amar’e Stoudemire being out, the Knicks have gone with a small starting lineup. It is something that works against certain teams like the Magic, Bucks, and Cavaliers who do not employ the most conventional lineups such as the Knicks. But the Bulls play bruising Power Forward Carlos Boozer and high energy Center Joakim Noah. The Knicks will have their hands full throughout the game with those two, and will need a collective effort from everyone in controlling the paint. Again, the return of Jared Jeffries can not be overstated because this is yet another area in which his return will be a great help in. The Bulls are one of the best rebounding teams in the NBA, dominating the Knicks on the glass in the last meeting between the two teams which ultimately led to the Knicks demise. 

-Bench Play 

The Bulls bench has gotten some great experience because of injuries throughout the season to the starting lineup. They have more than serviceable big man Taj Gibson, sharp shooter Kyle Korver, and battle tested Ronnie Brewer. The Knicks bench will have to bring energy and toughness tonight to match-up with the Bulls tonight. Look for J.R. Smith and Steve Novak to come out firing to contend with the lack of size the Knicks have in the middle. 

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