Saturday, March 1, 2014
W2W4: Knicks at Bulls
By Ian Begley
Here are a few things to keep an eye on during Sunday's Knicks-Chicago Bulls game (1 p.m. ET on ABC):
Feelin' Melo: Carmelo Anthony is in the middle of one of his best seasons as a pro, averaging 28.3 points and 8.5 rebounds per game.
The last player to average at least 28 and eight was Shaquille O'Neal in 2000-01.
Unlike O’Neal in that season, Anthony isn’t getting much support from his teammates. The Knicks are a season-high 17 games under .500 and falling further and further out of the playoff picture with each successive loss.
One thing to keep an eye on today: Tom Thibodeau's Bulls have done a great job limiting Anthony this season.
He’s averaging 26.0 PPG in two games against Chicago this season but shot just 37.8 percent from the field in those two games.
Anthony shouldn't take it too personally, though.
Thibodeau's Bulls are giving up the second-fewest points per 100 possessions in the league and the second-fewest per game.
Anthony is expected to play Sunday despite suffering a right-hand injury on Friday against the Golden State Warriors.
Free fallin': The Knicks have lost nine of 10 and are on a five-game losing streak. It's their third losing streak of at least five games this season. Only the lowly Milwaukee Bucks (four) have more.
If recent history is any indication, the Knicks will have a tough time snapping their skid on Sunday.
They have lost five in a row and 21 of 24 in Chicago.
A loss Sunday could drop them seven games out of the eighth and final playoff spot with 22 games to go in the regular season.
Mike Woodson told his Knicks after Friday’s game that they should be focused on the postseason.
But history is not on Woody’s side. Since 1983-84 (the first season of the 16-game playoff format), only two teams were five or more games out of the eighth playoff spot and made the postseason. Both were swept in the first round.
Bullish market: The Bulls are headed in the opposite direction of Woodson and the Knicks. They are 19-8 since Jan. 1, tied for the fourth-best record in the NBA and tied for second best in the Eastern Conference -- trailing only the Miami Heat.
Native New Yorker Joakim Noah seems to be a key to their resurgence.
Since the new year, the Bulls are outscoring opponents by 7.5 points per 48 minutes with Noah on the court and are getting outscored by 8.2 without him.