The New York Knicks (0-3) will be taking on the Chicago Bulls (1-2) at home in Madison Square Garden tonight at 7:00pm Eastern Time. The Bulls will open up as one point favorites, as the Knicks look to bounce back and win their first game this season after an embarrassing loss to the Boston Celtics two nights ago. The Knicks will be without Dennis Smith Jr. due to personal reasons, but Mitchell Robinson (sprained ankle) is probable to play.
The Starting Lineups
It is still a few hours until tipoff and it isn’t certain who will be starting for either side just yet, but it can be assumed the Knicks will be starting Elfrid Payton, RJ Barrett, Marcus Morris, Julius Randle, and Mitchell Robinson. The Bulls likely will send out Tomas Satoransky, Zach Lavine, Otto Porter Jr., Lauri Markkanen, and Wendell Carter Jr. to start the game. The Bulls have relied on the trio of Zach Lavine, Otto Porter Jr., and rookie Coby White (off of the bench) to do most of the scoring. The Knicks will look towards a more spread out offensive attack where Barrett, Morris, and Randle will be the main players asked to score the rock. It will be crucial for Robinson to stay out of foul trouble to defend this bigger Bulls team. The Knicks will also be looking forward to seeing their two main scorers off of the bench, Allonzo Trier and Kevin Knox, to have a bounce back game after they both struggled mightily against Boston.
Matchup Of The Night
Julius Randle vs. Lauri Markkanen. Randle is going to have his work cut out for him if he draws the assignment to cover Markkanen on defensive instead of Mitch. Randle would be guarding a taller Markkanen who can space the floor and knock down threes. I wouldn’t be surprised if Markkanen matches up with Robinson and Randle matches up with Carter Jr. on both sides of the floor though. Either way, Randle is going to need to box out and not let the Bulls bigs crash the glass like they have in their first 3 contests. Julius will also need to find his jumper to space the floor and not allow the Bulls two big men to sit in the paint and contest shots. RJ Barrett vs. Zach Lavine will also be a great matchup all night as both will most likely lead their team in scoring unless another player on their squad gets hot and has a phenomenal night.
Review Of The Bulls
The Bulls are 3rd in the league in both offensive and defensive turnover percentage. The Bulls are also 5th in the league in offensive rebound percentage. As for the Bulls flaws, they are allowing teams to shoot 41.7% from 3, while only shooting 28% from 3 themselves. Chicago has also had a hard time scoring as they have been shooting at a low percentage from the floor and have rarely gone to the free throw line. The Bulls have a pretty mediocre roster and they’re very beatable. Their strengths are clearly creating turnovers, protecting the basketball, and having tremendous size inside.
Keys To Winning
The Knicks are going to need to take care of the ball and not allow the Bulls to gain 2nd chance opportunities on offensive rebounds. The Bulls lack shooting and misses should help the Knicks get out into transition on outlets, leading to easy buckets. I would expect New York to push the ball and tempo a lot tonight and look for open shooters to knock down 3s, which have been an issue for the Bulls to stop thus far this season.