The Knicks take on the Bulls this afternoon in arguably the biggest game of the season. New York will have its hands full -- the Bulls own the best record in the Eastern conference and may get Derrick Rose (groin) back after a 12-game absence.
Making matters more difficult, the Knicks enter play Sunday just a half-game up on Milwaukee for the eighth and final playoff spot in the conference. New York will travel to Chicago for the back-end of a home-and-home on Tuesday and then travel to Milwaukee for a hugh game against the Bucks.
So Sunday begins a huge stretch for New York. Let's take a look at a few things to watch for on Sunday afternoon:
HITTING THE BOARDS: The Knicks may get reserve forward Jared Jefffries back on Sunday -- and it couldn't come at a better time. New York was dominated on the glass by the Bulls in the teams' last meeting on March 12 -- Chicago out rebounded the Knicks, 56-38. Taj Gibson pulled down 13 as Chicago enjoyed a 22-9 advantage on the offensive glass. Jeffries has missed the past eight games with a right knee ailment. Getting him back should help the Knicks keep Chicago away from the rim when a shot goes up.
ONE-MAN SHOW? With Jeremy Lin (knee) and Amare Stoudemire (back) out, the Knicks have relied heavily on Carmelo Anthony to provide offense. And he's responded. In the past four games, Anthony has scored 28.3 points per game on 48.2 percent shooting. On the season, Anthony is averaging 20.3 points per game on 40.3 percent shooting. Mike Woodson, though, has said the team can't rely too heavily on Anthony. J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert have emerged as secondary options. Who will emerge on Sunday?
POINT GUARD PLAY: With Derrick Rose back, it will be interesting to see how the Knicks matchup defensively. Iman Shumpert has proved to be a lockdown defender and Woodson has said the rookie will see time at point guard. A banged-up Baron Davis (hamstring, knee) would likely have trouble with the lightning-quick Rose.
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