Following their 115-106 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks last night, the Bulls (11-22) are now 8-2 in their last 10 games. While this recent hot streak is bad news for fans who lead the charge on the “Tank Brigade”- with hopes of the Bulls securing a top 3 pick in the 2018 draft- it’s good news for those who enjoy competitive basketball. While fans would be crazy to think that Mirotic could continue to shoot 50% from beyond the arc and the bench could put up 54 points consistently like they did last night, the win is an indicator of effort in action rather than fool’s gold.
With the Bucks in the rearview mirror, the Bulls have their sights set on their next opponent in the New York Knicks. Gearing up for the second game of a back-to-back and their second meeting with the Knicks this season (Bulls won 104-102 on Dec. 9th) the Bulls look to keep going in the right direction.
Keys to Victory for the Bulls v.s. the New York Knicks:
On the season, Kristaps Porzingis is averaging 25 ppg and 7 ast. While the Bulls can only hope for a repeat of Kristap’s outing against Boston last week where he scored just 1 point and went 0-11 from the field in 23 minutes (after missing two games due to knee issues) it’s highly unlikely that lightning will strike twice. Porzingis played just alright by his standards in the first meeting earlier this month (23 point on 10-25 from the field) and the Knicks would have walked away with a victory had K.P. knocked down his last second shot from deep. Chicago doesn’t have a player the caliber of Porzingis who can match up with him athletically, so it will have to be a team effort if they’re hoping to keep him in check.
Make the most of Opportunities
This key is a more obvious one that applies to every game. Although, in the case of the Bulls and Knicks this key is imperative. On the season, there isn’t a large divide in terms of stats such as points per game, rebounds, assist and 3-point percentage amongst these two teams. The Bulls shot 103 shots against the Milwaukee Bucks last night and shot 43% from the field. Going up against the length of Kanter and Porzingis will be a tough test, so they will have to depend on smarter shot selections, as the chance of rebounds will possibly being harder to come by. Another area where the Bulls have to be on their game is from the free-throw line. The Bulls are 27th in the league at 73% from the charity stripe, while the Knicks are 9th in the league at just under 80% for the year.
At 17-16, the New York Knicks are a middle-of-the-bunch team at best, but certainly still a team that can present multiple problems for a team like the Bulls. They must also account for the resurgence of Michael Beasley and the shooting threat of former Bull Doug McDermott. With that said, if the Bulls want to keep with their winning ways they can’t afford to take them lightly.
Watch highlights of the Bulls and Knicks first matchup on December 9th here.
View the remainder of the Bulls schedule here.