Tuesday, April 10, 2012

New York Knicks vs. Chicago Bulls Pre-Game News and Notes April 10

Tuesday, April 10, 2012 9:30 P.M. ET 
New York Knicks vs. Chicago Bulls 

After an excitement filled thrilling game Sunday afternoon, the Knicks and Bulls are back at it to finish their home and home series tonight in Chicago. The Knicks have been rekindling rivalries with teams over the last 2 seasons, and it’s safe to say the Bulls are one of those teams. The Knicks currently sit in 7th place in the Eastern Conference, tied with the 76ers and a game ahead of the Milwaukee Bucks. Tonight will be the 4th and final meeting between the Bulls and Knicks for the regular season, but could match up in the first round of the playoffs if everything falls into place. 

-Injuries Concerns 

The injury front for the Knicks has gotten murkier since Sunday. Tyson Chandler was seen at points with heavy wrapping of ice on his elbow, something that will be monitored since he is also dealing with wrist and groin injuries. Jared Jeffries returned Sunday for the Knicks and did not report any negatives, so he will be a go for tonight. 

The Bulls on the other hand could be without Derrick Rose tonight. He was seen in a walking boot last night, but no longer was wearing it today. Rose did not participate in the morning shoot around with his teammates and is appearing unlikely to play tonight. Bulls Head Coach Tom Thibodeau says Rose will be a game-time decision. The Knicks would be lucky to have Rose not play, but the Bulls are very deep and are 15-7 this season without Rose. 

-Attack the Basket 

The Knicks heavily relied on jump shots in Sunday’s meeting with the Bulls. It worked in the 1st quarter when the Knicks were able to open up a 27-6 lead. After that, the shooting became less and less efficient, scoring less points every quarter after that allowing the Bulls to get back into the game and take the lead at the end of the 3rd quarter. It would be beneficial for the Knicks to attack the basket more and get to the foul line. 

The Knicks are an above average free throw shooting team, and have players capable of getting to the line at will. If they are able to put pressure on the Bulls front line it will go a long way. Attacking the basket will also allow the Knicks to open up the Bulls defense. If they are attacking the basket with efficiency, the wings and guards of the Bulls are going to have to come off their assignments opening up open jumpers instead of contested ones. 

-Fields Disappearance Act 

Early in games recently Landry Fields has made impacts on the game. But once the second half comes around, Fields turns into a different player. Woodson does like playing J.R. Smith in favor of Fields because he can help run the Point, but the real reason is because of the liability Fields is shooting the ball. 
In the 2nd half the defense picks up and timely baskets are a must, something Fields has struggled with. Also when the game is coming down the stretch, Fields hurts the team at the free throw line, shooting a putrid 57% from the foul line. If Fields can improve his jump shooting he will see more time on the court. Until then he will continue to start games but watch from the bench at the end of them. 

-Carmelo Anthony’s Heroics 

Carmelo Anthony has done exactly what he said he would when Amar’e Stoudemire and Jeremy Lin went down with injuries, which is carry the team. Anthony has lived up to the billing knocking down countless number of clutch shots and scoring a large portion of the Knicks points. He has also become more engaged on the defensive end, showing effort he had not shown prior while playing for the Knicks. While it is a sight to see for fans, they also have to wonder how long can this keep up? 

Anthony is more than willing to shoulder the offensive load, but he will need a sidekick to score along with him. Iman Shumpert and J.R. Smith right now seem the most capable with Tyson Chandler mixed in, but they have to do it on a more consistent basis. 

Smith has averaged 13 points in his last 5 games, but is taking almost 6 3 pointers and 14 shots a game in that period. Smith is the definition of a streak shooter, but needs to find a way to be more consistent. It would go a long way for him and the Knicks if he could. 

As for Shumpert, he has improved upon his shooting after working with Allan Houston recently on his release. Shumpert has all the talent in the world; he just needs to harness it. His shot selection is suspect right now, and will improve with more time playing since he still is a rookie. He had back to back 25 point games against Atlanta and Orlando a few weeks back, but other than that has been inconsistent. 

Consistency is key not only for Shumpert and Smith, but the whole Knicks team. It will take more than one person to get this team into the playoffs and to succeed. 

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