Derrick Rose says he's ready to return to action as long as he doesn't have a set back. Will Tom Thibodeau agree? We'll find out soon. Meanwhile, the Bulls are in for it against a recharged Knicks team that has played much better since the ouster of Mike D'Antoni
The New York Knicks are 9-3 without D'Antoni (4-2 since losing both Amare and Lin whom will both miss the Bulls game). They've got some quality wins over that stretch (@Indiana, @Philadelphia, @Orlando). The Knicks have been piling on points in a small ball lineup featuring Carmelo at PF.
To go big or to go small?
The Bulls can try and matchup small against the Knicks and put Deng in at PF with Brewer in at SF. While I'm sure Chicago will start in it's typical configuration, I wouldn't be surprised to see more small ball being used later in the game if the initial take doesn't work well.
The Bulls may start off with Noah on Melo and Boozer on Tyrus. I think Noah can hang with Melo well enough, and Tyson isn't enough of an offensive threat to abuse Boozer, and Boozer is a good enough rebounder to stop Tyson from getting tons of cheap points on the offensive glass.
On the other end, I like Boozer's odds of scoring against Carmelo down low or if Chandler comes out to guard him, I like Noah destroying the Knicks on the offensive glass.
Assuming a Rose return, the Bulls can matchup small as well. Rose, Rip, Korver, Deng, and Noah would give the Bulls a potent offensive lineup as well, or they could switch to Brewer for more defense. C.J. could fit in with this lineup as well if Rose is out as the unit would be loaded with quality passers.
Defend the three
The Knicks have been jacking up threes left and right recently. They're inconsistent in doing so, but when they knock them down the offense becomes deadly (much like any offense that knocks down lots of threes). If the Bulls can run the Knicks off the three point line to prevent the Knicks high stake offense to lose its wild card it will help push the game in their favor.
Dominate the glass
With the Knicks playing a whole ton of small ball, Chicago should crash the glass and make them pay for it. The Bulls are one of the best rebounding teams in the league and should crush opponents who go small on them when it comes to rebounding.
The Bulls will need to use a five man rebounding effort though as the Knicks long range shooting will likely lead to plenty of long rebound opportunities. The Bulls guards will need to be cognizant of boxing out to remove the threat of extra possessions through long rebounds and also look to initiate their own fast break offense when given a chance.
Big game for both teams
As noted here, the Bulls want the Knicks out of the playoffs, because it enhances their odds of winning the tiebreaker, plus every game left this season is crucial for them in their chase for the #1 seed. The Bulls really need to win both games of this upcoming home and home to enhance their seeding while the Knicks would likely be satisfied splitting the series.
Presuming Rose plays, he'll likely have more rust in this game, plus it's on the road. The combination gives the Knicks better odds of stealing the victory in this one. Chicago will need to play tough and focused to take the MSG crowd out of the game early.